​Boost for rural hospitals as NZ broadband rollout finishes

“Faster broadband enables healthcare to be delivered in new and innovative ways."

All rural public hospitals and integrated family health centres now have access to high speed broadband across New Zealand, as revealed by Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Communications Minister Amy Adams.

According to Dr Coleman, the 39 hospitals and integrated family health centres identified by DHBs as candidates for the government’s Rural Broadband Initiative are now all able to connect to fibre capable of peak speeds of at least 100 Mbps.

“Faster broadband enables healthcare to be delivered in new and innovative ways,” Dr Coleman adds.

“These e-Health solutions offer better, safer, more efficient healthcare closer to home.

“A good example of this is Telehealth. This technology enables patients to be seen by their health professional remotely which improves health monitoring, lowers healthcare costs, and gives more flexibility to patients and health professionals.

“Telehealth not only breaks down geographic barriers within New Zealand, but it also enables health practitioners to more easily discuss cases and exchange information with colleagues all over the world.”

Adams says high speed connectivity is changing the way Kiwis live, work and do business and the opportunities to use this connectivity to help improve the quality of healthcare in New Zealand is enormous.

“We’ve come a long way already in improving rural connectivity and this latest milestone shows the RBI is making a difference to hospitals and health centres in rural areas as well as farmers, schools, families and households,” Adams adds.

Going forward, Adams says the government is now focused on extending RBI to as many Kiwis as possible.

“We’ve allocated an extra $100 million to expand the Rural Broadband programme as well as $50 million to improve mobile coverage in black spot areas along main highways and in popular tourist destinations,” Adams adds.

“We’ve also got a bold 2025 target for rural broadband and are proud to be putting rural connectivity at the heart of our regional economy development strategy.”

According to Adams, benefits of high speed internet for healthcare include real-time transmission of medical imagery enables the interpretation of MRI, ultrasound, X-rays, and other diagnostic procedures to be performed remotely.

In addition, the completion now allows for video conferencing between doctors, specialists and patients assists in remote diagnoses and faster delivery of care.