Telemedicine Redux

There’s another article over at ABC Tech about the NBN.  Hats off to Nick Ross for another huge and heavily-referenced article on the NBN.

Despite reading my previous posts at least well enough to disagree with them, he’s continued to make the same claims again – which aren’t referenced at all.


* A link to the RFDS saying that rural broadband will help them – OK, fair enough.

* A link to the AIHW Media release spelling out the amount of spending on health;  with absolutely no information on projected cost savings associated with the NBN.  So health is expensive. We know that, show us how NBN will make it cheaper.

* A link to a company providing telehealth services.  They 1) aren’t likely to be unbiased, are they?  2) Seem to be getting on OK with the current broadband system (see my post below on bandwidth not being the panacea); and the previously linked story on ABC radio.

All unlinked:  Instant triage, empty waiting rooms, less doctor visits and ambulance transport savings.  All of these were discussed below and may not be as good as suggested.

I particularly take issue with the remote monitoring claim and have comprehensively demolished it already, so it is really time to put up or shut up:  Give us an example of a patient illness that is severe enough to require continuous monitoring, not-serious enough to not require nursing care and that isn’t already treated as an outpatient.  I can’t think of a single one, and if you’re going to keep making this claim, either tell us who is giving you this example or give us a concrete, specific case so we can discuss it further.

* There’s a link to the head of Intel – Intel, FFS – talking about the health needs of Grey Nomads.   I’m happy to give you my opinion on the future development of silicon doping technology, too if you’d like.  The difference is 1) I wouldn’t because I don’t know what I’m talking about and 2) nobody would take me seriously.   Why are these smart technologists suddenly experts in healthcare and biomedical engineering?

* An unlinked assertion that falls are expensive (true) and that the NBN will take “a chunk” out of these costs.   Jolly good then.

* The unlinked opinion about not having to take time off to go to the doctor, which I’ve already discussed at length.


Nick has obviously put in the hard yards on this article, and I’m impressed that he’s done research with the Alfred and others.  But unproven assertions aren’t going to cut it, and when someone has systematically disagreed with many of these benefits, the least you could do is provide adequate evidence if you’re not going to engage in debate (FWIW, I DM’ed Nick my email address and offered to discuss it further).

I don’t think I can put it better than Geordie Guy did (Geordie knows much more about tech than I do – but less about medicine) – repeating your opinion numerous times, no matter how strongly held, does not make it fact.


I’m going to leave this alone now – because Nick has asked me to lay off, but I’d really love to see some facts and I look forward to the Economic data he tells me that is going to come soon.


~ by Trent on September 19, 2012.

3 Responses to “Telemedicine Redux”

  1. Ultimately its about a cost to benefit analysis, no matter how sophisticated. Of course the NBN will generate benefits, but are they so great that they will provide greater benefits, than, say, using the money for some other purpose? E.g. direct investment in health.

    There also seems the implication that human resources are the limiting factor, and that tele-consultations will allow specialists to see more people by removing geographical constraints. But if we have one expert in one location and five centres (for example) with the medical equipment that feeds data to him or her, we will spend five times as much on medical equipment than if we have one location with expert and equipment both on site. Expensive equipment like CT Scanners can’t be set up all over the place, as the additional cost would possibly outweigh the advantages.

    That said, I can’t wait for the NBN to be set up in my area, I’m counting down the days. Of course, I’m more concerned with low pings than medical benefits.

  2. In the comments on Nick’s article appears the following (in response to someone else criticising his article):

    “Nick Ross : 19 Sep 2012 2:34:53pm

    Do you think you could back that up with some examples, please? Just one even?”

    I can’t easily count the number of examples I’ve made, but I can only assume that Nick has no plans on engaging with me about them, as he’s been given ample opportunity.

  3. […] See my previous posts on this subject here, here and here. […]

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