Broadband rollout to rural hospitals complete

  • Amy Adams
  • Jonathan Coleman
Health Communications

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman and Communications Minister Amy Adams have announced that all rural public hospitals and integrated family health centres now have access to high speed broadband.

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. These e-Health solutions offer better, safer, more efficient healthcare closer to home,” says Dr Coleman.

“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.”

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

“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.”

Ms Adams said the Government was 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. 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.”

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.
  • Video conferencing between doctors, specialists and patients assists in remote diagnoses and faster delivery of care. 
  • Remote monitoring and online consultations which would lead to a reduction in strenuous patient transfers.
  • Allows physicians to connect with distant specialists for real-time guidance in emergency situations.
  • A significant reduction in the time spent on administration, which will make the transfer of patients through the health system more efficient.