Frequently Asked Questions
Choosing appropriate equipment and services
Q. Why is it important to distinguish between Complex Management or Diagnostic Use versus General Use?
Complex Management and Diagnostics may require the use of Systems with Higher Resolution and Optical Zoom cameras controllable by the Specialist at a site remote from the patient (Far End Camera Control or FECC) Also specific lighting and other room enhancements may be required to fully capture the patient condition. These features allow some selected aspects of an in-person physical examination to be conducted from the remote site.
Systems for General consultation are required to restore the effective communications that occur in an in-person consultation. This is the most common consultation type and can be readily supported by much less expensive and easily set up VC options.
Q. How will I ensure my technology choices are compatible with other health providers’ and patients’ need?
The published recommendations list the requirements for VC Systems and Software to be able to operate together, at a technical layer. This does not however ensure that they will. Technical expertise and human cooperation is still required to connect systems at the times required. Management platforms are available to help ease and semi automate the connection process.
Q. How can I select a technology that fits with the Specialists/GPs I work with?
Today, to have the best chance of easily managed video consultations you should speak with your GP and Specialist colleagues, whom you will most frequently handle referrals with, about adopting a management platform and services that can help you connect your various systems at appointment times. Alternatively adopting a common technology which already has an appointment centric management platform will provide most certainty.
Q. What sort or Internet service will I need?
A medium to high speed Broad Band service is required for VC technology to be able to participate widely with compatible equipment. ADSL2+ or Cable services are sufficient provided that you purchase a higher level plan and are not too distant from the Telephone Exchange to achieve the contracted bandwidth.
If you have multiple health providers in one practise who need to do concurrent Video consultations you may need a Business Grade Symmetric service which provides much higher uplink capacity than normal domestic or business internet services.
Q. How much will this cost?
This will be highly dependent on your objectives and consultation types.
For Complex Management or Diagnostics - Room based hardware VC Systems $6000-$20,000
For General Consultation Use - Desktop PC/Mac enabled Video Solution - $3000 (including PC) $1500 PC, $800 Large Dual Monitors, $300 Speaker/Microphone, $130 camera
$150 per month for Business Grade Internet service
$300-$600 per month for higher speed Symmetric Business Grade service
Depending on location and Internet provider, Internet link commissioning can incur an initial fee (which may be higher in regional areas).
Getting Set Up
Q. How long will it take to get set up?
For General Consultation use:
With an existing suitable Internet and PC/Mac – Peripherals and service/software setup can be acquired and installed in a few days.
Upgrading plans on existing Internet services can take only a few days, but if a new service type is required then several weeks can be expected with up to eight weeks in some circumstances.
For Diagnostic and Complex Management needs:
A full consultation will be required to determine the type of VC hardware and associated equipment best suited to your consultation type. This includes room layout, camera placement and compatibility requirements for FECC. Lead times of many weeks can be experienced for specific equipment and installation, so allowing 4-8 weeks is reasonable.
Q. Who will help me get this working?
A VC service provider or equipment vendor would normally assist in your setup to initial appointments. Some Management platforms provide guided self-service for staff or existing ICT support people to follow and may only require minimal consultation.
Q. Who will assist me if I have problems at appointment time?
A line of support is necessary to be confident that problems can be resolved if encountered before or at appointment time. This can be achieved by ensuring that you have entered into contracts to access trained support staff at vendors or service providers, or by organizing training for your existing technical support people.
Q. What do I have to do to be able to allow a patient to attend a Specialist appointment with me from my Practice?
You will need to ensure VC equipment placement and seating arrangements can be met in your normal room, or to setup a specially equipped Video Consultation room. You can seek advice on these arrangements from a Video Consultation expert.
Q. What training will I and my staff need?
This depends on the solution you choose, but some basic training will always be required to orient providers and their staff to the additional/changed processes required for VC consultation and to understand the operation of the technology. A minimum 1-2 hours provided during initial setup would allow good use of technology.
Staff responsible for orienting patients to use of technology at home would require further training.
Support staff at VC Hosting rooms would need to be very competent in both process and technology issue resolution.
Q. How will I know if a Specialist is already Telehealth Enabled and ready to provide Video consultation through my practice?
Initiatives are under way to construct directories of providers who are enable to particpate in Telehealth consultations. DoHA has listed support and promotion of Telehealth as one of the responsibilties of new Medicare Locals to be established.
Q. How will I know where there are Telehealth Enabled Rooms that my patients can attend from in their region?
It is expected that Medicare Locals would play a part on the establishment and communication of these facilities.
Q. How will I know if my patient can do this from home
A documented patient and site assessment process can be conducted by practise staff to assess their personal and environmental readiness. Enablement steps can be taken to remedy some issues but if it is considered they would be best to not to attempt attending an appointment from home, then a VC Hosting Venue in their local town or regional centre needs to be found.
Q. How will I and my patients know what to do to be able to attend a Specialist appointment via VC.
Practice staff will need have processes to ensure that patients are informed as to what the confirmed arrangements for attendance are. This could be at home, at GP Practice or at an appropriate available VC Hosting room, so the information will vary greatly. Some practise management software may assist with this task.
If attending unassisted from home, patients will already need to have pretested they home PC Setup to ensure they know what to do at the right time. Guides are available from providers of VC Services and Management platforms.
Q. How will I access and share patient information
Suitable VC systems allow presentation of Images or applications running on PCs and Macs to the remote end. If you have it on your local PC you can elect to allow Colleagues or Patients view only access to selected windows.
Q. What Solutions are available to help me manage these issues?
Appointment centric management platforms are available to assist with scheduling, communication, automation of connections and integration with other software. Find out more on our solutions page.
Scenario: Remote consultation
From DoHA Medicare Rebates for Telehealth Brochure.
Mary lives on a dairy farm in NSW, twenty minutes drive from Bega. Mary’s local GP is Dr Sharma, who detected Mary’s respiratory disorder in 2010. Dr Sharma referred her to Dr Brown, a specialist... Read more..