$5M funding boost for telehealth quality and safety research in Australia


The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is allocating over $5 million to six expert teams to advance research into improving the quality and safety of telehealth services.

This funding initiative, known as the Targeted Call for Research (TCR) for Ensuring the Quality and Safety of Telehealth 2023, aims to explore telehealth’s potential to achieve positive health outcomes.

Since its expansion in March 2020, telehealth has become an integral part of Australia’s primary healthcare system, offering diagnostics, treatment and preventive services through phone or video calls. The projects funded under this initiative seek to identify factors influencing the effectiveness of telehealth services for different populations and health conditions. Additionally, they aim to develop tools to assist healthcare providers in selecting appropriate telehealth services.

Professor Jonathon Karnon from Flinders University is leading one of the funded projects, focusing on improving virtual emergency department services. This initiative aims to ensure safe and high-quality virtual care for non-life-threatening cases, reducing delays in accessing healthcare services and alleviating patient distress.

Another project, led by Professor Meredith Makeham and her team from the University of Sydney, will evaluate the safety, quality and acceptability of telehealth for residents in aged care homes. This research will provide insights from residents, carers and healthcare providers to enhance decision-making support and tools for clinicians.

NHMRC CEO Professor Steve Wesselingh emphasised the importance of targeted research initiatives in addressing specific health issues. “These projects will be able to provide us with a strong evidence base for telehealth services, and how they can be optimised to provide significant improvements to health at both an individual and population level.”

Minister Butler emphasised the transformative impact of telehealth, particularly in rural and remote areas, and the government’s commitment to ensuring its safety and quality. The research projects funded through this initiative will contribute to unlocking telehealth’s full potential while addressing key challenges. “These six research projects will help point the way to better telehealth.”

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