Cutting edge: GP Dr Rod Martin and UNE vice chancellor Bigid Heywood at the new hospital.

Cutting edge: GP Dr Rod Martin and UNE vice chancellor Bigid Heywood at the new hospital.

New England virtual hospital 'will bring doctors to town'

Virtual hospital unveiled in Armidale by University of New England to treat patients across New England North West

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The virtual hospital is at the cutting edge of technology and is already treating patients in their homes across the New England North West.


NEW England MP Barnaby Joyce believes a new virtual hospital in New England will attract more doctors to town.

The New England Virtual Hospital's Joint Virtual Care Centre (JVCC) was unveiled this week in Armidale.

The centre is housed within University of New England's Tableland Clinical School and supports the delivery of in-home healthcare for patients in the New England North West region.

Unveiled officially with a demonstration for the Minister for Regional Health, Mark Coulton, three remote patients from as far away as Yetman near the Queenlsand border, were monitored live.

The centre will link patients with doctors and specialists using a monitoring system, allowing them to access care without travelling long distances to a major hospital.

The new system continuously tracks heart rate, temperature, oxygen saturation and blood pressure through a band worn by patients, which is feeding information back to doctors and nurses.

At the launch on Wednesday, Mr Joyce said the system would bring doctors to town, and declared Armidale the IQ city. "Whether it's APVMA that's come to Armidale; whether it is the lithium batteries that we are designing in this city; whether it is the CSIRO; and now the point of care testing in medicine," Mr Joyce added.

He said it would bring a whole new range of jobs into the city, and make sure Armidale's stays at the cutting edge, not only of national technology, but of global technology.

"I want to commend the work done by the researchers here that has led to this new form of developing and delivering medicine to remote corners, not only of our electorate but, of our nation.

"This is something that is going to bring doctors into this town," Mr Joyce said.

UNE's Dean of Medicine and Health Professor Rod McClure said that the JVCC and the virtual hospital concept were already demonstrating the value of digitally enabled health care.

"The virtual care centre that we demonstrated today is the ideal enabler of telehealth and remote monitoring services. It will take pressure off already overburdened hospital networks, and improve health outcomes and access to healthcare for regional patients," Professor McClure said.

"Our objective here is address healthcare inequity for rural and regional patients by making healthcare accessible within our region.

"Early intervention for avoidable diseases, enabled by an increased workforce and technologically enabled healthcare, will significantly impact on the health outcomes of the region as a whole." The "Caretaker" technology is a key element of UNE's proposed New England Virtual Hospital Network (NEVIHN).

The story New England virtual hospital 'will bring doctors to town' first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.