Therapy Connect: the tele-healthcare alternative
Allied health provider Therapy Connect is a powerful example of how access to the nbn™ network is bringing benefits to the health and wellbeing of hundreds of Australians every week.
Surging in popularity in recent times, telehealth is healthcare delivered virtually with the help of telecommunications, including services over the nbn™ network.
Across 800 General Practitioner clinics in Victoria and New South Wales alone, the number of telehealth consults delivered over the phone and video increased from 42 per week in 2019 to more than 141,000 per week over the space of 12 months†.
An innovative business that relies on services over nbn™ Sky Muster™ Plus, Therapy Connect is a trailblazer for showcasing the power of digital connectivity in healthcare, showing incredible growth in recent years.^
It was the personal experiences of Simone Dudley and Sue Cameron, who both live and work on remote farms, that prompted them to start the business – to tackle the stress placed on rural providers and consumers due to commuting long distances to both deliver and access services.
“As an occupational therapist, I was travelling 136 kilometres to get to the practice that I wanted to work in,” says Simone.
“The nbn™ network was rolling out, and I felt that we could figure out a way we could increase access to services for families just like mine.”
A tele-healthy alternative
Offering an extensive range of allied health services, Therapy Connect has expanded rapidly.
Client numbers have grown by 1350 per cent, with appointments soaring from around 30 per month in June 2018 to almost 2000 in June 2021.
“Since 2019, we have added four additional service streams to the two we initially had, so we now offer speech pathology, occupational therapy, psychology, physiotherapy, dietetics, social work, and Early Educator services nationally,” says Simone.
More than 60 practitioners – an increase from seven in 2018 – are based in locations as remote as tiny Boigu Island off the tip of northern Queensland, working with clients from across the country.
Not only does Therapy Connect’s business model allow clients to remotely access services at a time that suits them, it offers practitioners the flexibility to match their lifestyles with work.
“We couldn’t have done that without the nbn™ network,” says Simone.
And while our network is there to help enable and support the growth of businesses like Therapy Connect, opening the eyes of both clients and practitioners to the power of telehealth is just as important.
In Therapy Connect’s case, says Simone, her clients’ pressing need for a solution – and word of mouth – proved powerful motivators.
“Telehealth was not widely known and there were a lot of people who were curious about how it worked,” says Simone of the time she and Sue kicked off their practice.
“It was definitely perceived as a ‘last resort’ for many people and our client base would often not have many other options and so they would give it a go.
“That was the catalyst, and then they would discover that it worked and then start telling their friends.”
The advantages of telehealth for Australians
There are many benefits for patients, as well as for healthcare providers, including:
- gaining access to health care sooner
- reducing the cost and time of travelling to appointments
- allowing family members to be part of the consult
- accessing healthcare from the comfort of home
Telehealth can also help limit the risk of infection for the community’s most vulnerable, such as those who are chronically sick, pregnant, elderly or with poor immune systems.
† Hardie R-A, Sezgin G, Dai Z, Georgiou A. The uptake of GP telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 General Practice Snapshot. Issue 1: 2 December 2020. Sydney: Macquarie University; 2020. https://doi.org/10.25949/C3HE-F430
^ nbn is very happy with Therapy Connect, Sue and Simone’s experience with the nbn™ network. Of course, end customer experiences may vary. An end customer’s experience, including the speeds actually achieved over the nbn™ network, depends on the nbn™ access network technology and configuration over which services are delivered to their premises, whether they are using the internet during the busy period, and some factors outside of nbn’s control (like their equipment quality, software, chosen broadband plan, signal reception, or how their provider designs its network). Speeds may also be impacted by the number of concurrent users on the nbn™ Fixed Wireless network, including during busy periods. Sky Muster™ satellite end customers may also experience latency.