Jacob Thurlow has a big smile, becoming a local celebrity after starring in the Telehealth television commercial.
Jacob Thurlow has a big smile, becoming a local celebrity after starring in the Telehealth television commercial.

Video link a healthy alternative

TELEHEALTH has saved Nadia Thurlow a lot of travelling.

Nadia’s 13-year-old son Jacob is a type 1 insulin dependent diabetic who requires frequent trips to Mackay for check-ups.

Telehealth offers patients in regional and remote areas access to medical services via video link.

The family lives in Clermont and Nadia was making the three-hour drive with Jacob every six weeks but now, since using Telehealth, they only make the trip once every three months.

Nadia said as she worked full-time she had to take time off to take Jacob to Mackay for check-ups.

“It saves travelling and helps me cost wise. It’s good,” she said.

Jacob was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was nine and the Thurlow family has been making use of Telehealth for the past two years after the diabetes team suggested it.

“It’s really good. The checkups are a matter of talking to the TV with the doctor,” Nadia said.

“They see us and we see them, nothing is lacking.”

She said they are able to talk in more detail about any issue when they had the three-month check-up.

“We have the decent talks then but it’s a big help in between,” she said.

She said she understood how living in Clermont or in a similar place could give the feeling of being stranded but said “you choose where you live”.

Telehealth lessens the feeling of being so isolated Nadia said, heartily recommending it to others.

And it is not just patients in rural areas benefiting from the service with Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon announcing medical specialists who provided the video link consultations to patients in remote areas would be paid a 50% bonus.

“New Medicare items will allow a range of existing consultation services to be provided via video conferencing and additional rebates on top of these items recognise the increased complexity of providing service to a remote patient,” Ms Roxon said.

The bonus is part of the Labor’s $620 million Telehealth initiative to encourage medical specialists to implement the new technology with a $6000 one-off incentive payment to practitioners when they provide their first Telehealth consultation.

GPs, nurses, midwives and Aboriginal healthcare workers working physically with the patient will receive additional Medicare rebates.

To encourage bulk billing, practitioners will be paid an extra $20 for each video link service charged in that manner for 12 months.


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