The Australian Telehealth Society designates October as Australia’s National Telehealth Awareness Month. Individual jurisdictions can select their own week to suit, and we have chosen the last week of October to celebrate! Help us celebrate here.
This year the themes are:
- Promotion and awareness about telehealth and virtual care for consumers
- Addressing digital inequity and digital literacy
Let's dig in!
Digital Inequity and Digital Literacy
"Digital inclusion is whether a person can access, afford and have the
digital ability to connect and use online technologies effectively" - Australian Digital Inclusion Index.
The majority of Australians are digitally connected in some way, with almost 91% of Australians owning a smartphone (ABS 2018; Deloitte 2019). There are 73% of Australians who have used the internet to research a health issue, including the majority of older Australians (69% of those aged 65 and over), and 77% of Australians would like their doctor to suggest health information websites (ADHA 2017).
However, with more than 2.5 million Australians not using the internet, digital exclusion has now become a greater driver of inequality than ever before.
The digital divide can lead to disparities in patient adoption and telehealthcare access says Good Things Foundation Australia.
The Australian Digital Inclusion Index identifies three key features of digital inclusion:
Access: having available, good quality internet connections, secure infrastructure, suitable hardware, and sufficient data allowances
Affordability: being able to cover the cost of access relative to overall costs of living
Ability: having the knowledge and skills to use online technologies as well as having the access to these resources
In Australia, there is a digital divide between city and socio-economic exclusion. Those who live rurally may not have a secure internet connection due to the infrastructure and Australians with lower levels of income and education are less digitally included overall. There are also many people who can only access mobile phones and may not have a fixed internet connection or a personal computer/laptop. This could potentially include people on lower incomes or those who are homeless.
"Although internet infrastructure is available to almost all Australians,
more than 2.5 million remain offline", reports the Australian Digital Inclusion Index.
So what does this mean? Telehealth should be determined based on each individual client’s circumstances. Effective telehealth delivery should be provided once patients and clients needs are assessed and understood, including their ability to use online technologies, as well as providing resources to continually educate and facilitate online access and ability.
Click here for our blog on 'Promotion and awareness about telehealth and virtual care for consumers!'
We will be celebrating National Telehealth Month during the last week of October by sharing telehealth resources on our channels! Want to be featured? To celebrate we'd love you to send us your telehealth set up/snaps!
Make sure to tag us #coviutelehealth #telehealthawarenessmonth #coviu