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The Western Downs community will have better access to specialist medical care with the launch of The University of Queensland's Health-e-Regions telehealth project in Miles. 

Telehealth in the Western Downs region will reduce the burden on families who currently have to travel hundreds of kilometres to see a specialist in a major city, saving them stress and time away from home. 

Health-e-Regions will be run by The University of Queensland's Centre for Online Health, with support from the Queensland Department of Health and the university's main research commercialisation company, UniQuest. 

QGC Pty Limited has invested $1.3 million to expand telehealth services in the Western Downs and fund installation costs for the first two years, enabling families to get specialist medical consultations online. 

The pilot phase of the service will see patients visiting participating medical centres in Miles, Dalby and Chinchilla to be connected with specialists at hospitals in Toowoomba and Brisbane via video conference, reducing the need for long-distance travel for face-to-face consultations. 

Centre for Online Health Deputy Director Associate Professor Anthony Smith said telehealth was already benefiting people in the Western Downs. 

“We've had an overwhelmingly positive response from patients who have already had a telehealth appointment as part of the Health-e-Regions project,” Associate Professor Smith said. 

“In partnership with the Queensland Department of Health and QGC, we are pleased to offer a solution that reduces travel time and stress for patients. 

“Some families face a stressful and potentially dangerous road trip to visit specialists in Toowoomba or Brisbane. 

“If a child in a regional area requires follow-up after a serious burn injury, parents often take time off work, organise other family members and travel the long distance to Brisbane before seeing a specialist and in some cases, appointments may only last for 10 minutes. 

“Telehealth offers an alternative for many families living in the Western Downs.” 

QGC Vice-President Sustainability Brett Smith said QGC was delighted to help improve the liveability of the Western Downs region by supporting the innovation of The University of Queensland and the introduction of this service. 

“Community health is a key focus of our $150 million social contribution through which we manage social impacts and maximise benefits,” Mr Smith said. 

The Western Downs has three major centres benefitting from telehealth: Dalby, Chinchilla and Miles. 

Dalby is 180 km west of Brisbane, Chinchilla is 253km away and Miles is 300km away, with patients needing to travel on dangerous roads for a specialist appointment, which often lasts for 10 minutes. 

All three towns have a high proportion of children, young people and people aged over 65 years. 

Media: UQ Centre for Online Health, Joanne Grey, +61 (7) 3346 4754 or j.grey2@uq.edu.au.

UQ's Centre for Online Health 

The Centre for Online Health (COH) is a part of the School of Medicine within the Faculty of Health Sciences at The University of Queensland. With over 13 years of experience, the COH is recognised internationally for its role in research, service delivery and education and training in the fields of telemedicine, telehealth and e-Healthcare. The COH's researchers, academic researchers, educators, technicians, engineers and coordinators ensure best practice in Australian telehealth. The centre's keys areas of activity include clinically focussed research; academic and vocational education and training; and the provision of clinical telemedicine services, including one of the world's largest paediatric telemedicine services. 

QGC 

QGC Pty Limited (ACN: 089 642 553) is a leading Australian natural gas explorer and producer focused on supplying gas to domestic and international markets. QGC is establishing one of Australia's largest capital infrastructure projects to turn Queensland's world-class gas reserves into liquefied natural gas. Queensland Curtis LNG, a priority project for QGC, involves expanding exploration and development in southern and central Queensland and transporting gas through a 540km underground pipeline network to Curtis Island near Gladstone where it will be liquefied. For further information visit: www.qgc.com.au 

QGC media contact: Kester Hubbard, QGC Communications, +61 (427) 510 746 or kester.hubbard@bg-group.com.