The government has approved $875,000 for two new telemedicine networks for the southern South Island.
The aim of the network is to give patients better and speedier access to clinical and specialist medical expertise, and will further test how telemedicine can contribute to better health outcomes, says Health Minister Wyatt Creech.
The first initiative covers neurosurgical services.
Healthcare Otago will establish a neurosurgical telemedicine link between Dunedin and Christchurch, providing professional support between the neurosurgeons at the two sites.
The link will also transmit diagnostic information from secondary and tertiary level hospitals serviced by the neurosurgeons to the neurosurgeons in Dunedin and Christchurch.
The second telemedicine initiative covers rural hospitals in the southern area and will be developed in conjunction with the Dunedin School of Medicine.
A pilot project linking the rural hospitals south of Oamaru with Dunedin and Invercargill will establish teleconferencing links between Dunedin, Invercargill, Gore, Balclutha, Queenstown, Clyde and Oamaru.
It will support staff who provide emergency services in rural areas by providing visual access to expert opinion in critical or difficult situations, and will support the transfer of a range of diagnostic images, and facilitate collaboration and teaching.
Healthcare Otago will now work on the specific details, specialities and time frames for implementing the telemedicine initiatives. This is expected to take six weeks.