Minutes of the 2017 Annual General Meeting

Australasian Telehealth Society

Annual General Meeting 30 October 2017

Held at the Brisbane Convention Centre

Chair:  Jackie Plunkett (President)

Apologies and minutes

Apology received from Michelle McGuirk (Honorary Treasurer)

The minutes of the 2016 AGM were accepted (moved Liam Caffery, seconded Alan Taylor).

President’s report (Jackie Plunkett)

The ATHS was formed in 2008 to deliver a united voice for telehealth and to ensure that information related to telehealth was made more easily accessible.  Now, in 2017 the ATHS has had the honour of working with the Australian Telehealth Integration Program funded under the Australian Digital Health Agency to develop initiatives to embed telehealth into everyday clinical practice at a national level.  We have come a long way but we are still envious of our New Zealand colleagues.

Over the past year we have:

  • Sent out 12 This Week in Telehealth newsletters to members (TWIT)
  • Added additional resources to the ATHS website which has had 3600 visits over the past 12 months
  • Increased our mailing list to 640, including 15 corporate partners
  • Maintained a social media presence through LinkedIn and Facebook with 158 followers
  • Participated in the Australian Telehealth Integration Program led by the NT Department of Health on behalf of the Australian Digital Health Agency
  • Developed a submission to the Australian Digital Health Agency regarding the National Digital Health Strategy describing the benefits of telehealth in respect to the Digital Health landscape supporting healthcare over a distance, and suggest ways in which these benefits can be achieved.

One of the strongest recommendations for the Digital Health Strategy is to recognize that telehealth is an enabler; the submission developed works to support the case that healthcare at a distance is a considerable factor in driving the need for digitalized healthcare. We need to have secure electronic messaging and a medical record that follows the customer, we need to increase health literacy and develop self-management and monitoring skills within the population, we need to provide more solutions for the population to encourage health as a lifestyle option. This is a healthcare industry revolution, national policy will need to adapt, new funding models will be required to create systematic change and appropriate incentives should be applied including payment by outcomes instead of payment by status quo.

The healthcare revolution is also supported by the knowledge revolution that is at the fingertips of citizens and health providers with mobile applications (apps), wearable devices and an ever-increasing expanse in clinical information using online resources, some safe some not.

I am encouraged by the interaction between the Australian Digital Health Agency reaching out to the Telehealth industry to seek to embed telehealth into everyday clinical practice and I ask that the focus on telehealth does not diminish.  We are so close, and with only a few policy changes and recognition of telehealth as just part of core health service delivery and not special, telehealth will no longer be in the ‘project’ space but a true mainstream offering to our citizens.

In New Zealand, I am happy to say Australia is truly jealous, it appears that you have a clear path and a strategy to support telehealth, the creation of the National Telehealth service is a huge resource for the reform of healthcare, I implore you to continue on the path to make a change for the good.

The support of the ATHS membership and the leadership of the committee which represents the society has been a core element of the activities of ATHS.  The committee volunteers its time and expertise; to promote the uptake of telehealth, this commitment and dedication by our committee is to be commended.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have served as President for the last two years.  I would like to particularly thank my fellow executive members – Alan Taylor (Vice President); Michelle McGuirk (Treasurer); Laurie Wilson (Honorary Secretary) and Anthony Smith.  I would also like to thank each of the state representatives who contribute to the ATHS committee, for Australia and New Zealand who form a part of our broader committee; Susan Jury, Yogi Kanagasingam, Kim Ford, Liam Caffery, Mike Harman and our friends from New Zealand Denise Irvine and Simon Hayden.

The ATHS has also invested in marketing and communications support.  Kath McIntyre has fulfilled this role with passion and enthusiasm and looks to leverage opportunities for the society.  I would like to acknowledge this work and thank Kath for her efforts, which have, and I hope continue to contribute to the growth of the society.

I would like to say a fond farewell, again, and a big thank you to our Honorary Secretary, Laurie Wilson.  Laurie has served the ATHS since 2008 (with one year’s gap) and is, and will always be, a strong presence within the ATHS, over the past 12 months he has tirelessly organised and supported the members always with a smile on his face.  Our new Secretary, Susan Jury, has big boots to fill.

I congratulate Assoc Prof Anthony Smith on the successful SFT conference once again, I feel that telehealth, ATHS and SFT are going from strength to strength.  I reiterate my recurrent hope that we in the telehealth industry are successful in the advancement of telehealth.

We look forward to a challenging and exciting 2018!

Treasurer’s report (Michelle McGuirk)

ATHS has a NAB Community Fee Saver Account and a ‘Cash Maximizer’ Account, which are used jointly.  The Community Saver Account is used to manage cash flow, and has no transaction costs but accrues no interest.  The Cash Maximizer account accrues interest, but does not allow transactions without accruing costs.  Income and expenditure are paid through the Community Fee Saver Account, and moved to and from the Cash Maximizer or Term Deposit accounts as required. These accounts are treated as one in the subsequent report.

ATHS uses on-line membership renewals, managed through a PayPal account.  Funds held in this account incur a 2.5% levy and the balance is moved to the NAB Community Saver Account at appropriate intervals. There were also some international transactions this year, some profit from SFT16, held in New Zealand, was lost in conversion rates and bank fees.

ATHS has two Term Deposit Accounts, rolled over on a 6-month cycle to maximize interest whilst allowing access for strategic activities.  The second account (Term Deposit 2) has had a further $10,000 withdrawn in July 2017 to help sponsor and fund the SFT17 conference in Brisbane. Profits of the SFT17 Conference will be 50% shared with the ATHS and The University of Queensland.

At the 2016 AGM, there are 2 outstanding action items for the treasurer-  a Financial Audit to be conducted for the 14/15 16/17 financial years. The Executive Committee has also endorsed subscribing to the cloud based accounting system Xero.

Activity statements are available on request.

Prepared by Michelle McGuirk (Honorary Treasurer ATHS)


               Assets 16/17 Financial Year Income Expenses Opening Balances Closing Balances Bank Transfers Totals
 Community Fee Saver Account B/F 3,45 6.00
 Transferred from PayPal 4,413.30
        (69 members, 3 corporate members)
 Direct transfer 1 member 50.00
 Iceberg Credit Note (STF16) 13,046.00
 Total CFS Income 17,509.30
 ATHS Registration 44.18
 O/S transaction fee ($20US) 27.70
 Secretariat 12,689.85
 Domain hosting
 Web page re-design 1,500.00
 Web page 2,585.00
 ISfTeH 302.73
 Conference UQ (1/2 profit of STF16) 4,067.67
 Conference (Awards) 600.00
 Transfer to CMA -10,000.00
 Transfers from CMA 11,532.52
 Total Expenses -21,817.13
 Community Fee Saver Balance 680.69



                Assets 16/17 Financial Year Income Expenses Opening Balances Closing Balances Bank Transfers Totals
 Cash Maximiser Account B/F – Opening Balance 222.00
 SFT 16  Credit 8,135.34
 SFT 16 – refund HINZ Awards 182.00
 Transfers to CSF Account -11,532.52
 Transfers from CFS account 10,000.00
 Interest earned 14.53
 Total CMA Income 8,331.53
 Closing Balance Cash Maximiser Account 7,021.01
 PayPal balance 991.55 991.55
 Term Deposit (5602) #1 34,677.00
 Interest September 16 411.67
 Interest 3 March 17 374.11 35,462.78
 Term Deposit (5361) #2 24,305.00
 Interest August 16 204.62
 Interest 27 Feb 17 291.23 24,800.85
 Investment Balance 30 June 2017 60,263.63
 Financial statement at 30 June 2017 28,114.35 21,817.13 62,660.00 68,956.88



Secretary’s report (Laurie Wilson)

The current membership of the Australasian Telehealth Society is 494, although not all are financial.  Corporate members currently total 15.

The avenues of communication with members have been the web site, the regular This Week in Telehealth or TWIT (which despite its name has settled into being a monthly!), and occasional notices to members.  Most of this has been handled very professionally by Kath McIntyre, who also maintains out membership lists and web site enquiries.  TWIT is also distributed to 130 individuals who are not members.

The web site aths.org.au  is maintained by Laurie Wilson and Kath McIntyre.  This year some substantial material was added to the Resources page by Alan Taylor, including lists of telehealth publications for Australia and New Zealand.  The web site had 3,600 users in the last year, with two-thirds of all visits coming from Australia.

The Society has a Facebook page, currently with 103 followers, and a presence on Twitter and LinkedIn.

In 2017 I will complete my term as Honorary Secretary and I welcome Susan Jury to that role.  As I have served in that role (with 1 year off) since the formation of the Australasian Telehealth Society in 2008, it is time to hand over to a new generation.  I would like to thank the many individuals who have made this role so rewarding, including those who have acted in various roles on the committee, and in the last couple of years Kath McIntyre, whose professionalism has made the work of the Honorary Secretary much less demanding.


Election of Office Bearers

The results of the ballot for office bearers was announced.  All positions were uncontested, there being one nomination.

President:  Jackie Plunkett

Vice President: Alan Taylor

Honorary Secretary:  Laurie Wilson

Honorary Treasurer:  Michelle McGuirk

General Discussion

Peter Yellowlees, President of the American Telemedicine Association, spoke to the meeting about relations between ATHS and ATA.  We should look for mutual benefits and formalise a relationship via an MOU.  Jackie Plunkett agreed with the idea and it will be explored further.  Liam Caffery suggested that ATHS could adopt some ATA guidelines.

Alan Taylor requested that members contribute to TWIT (This Week In Telehealth), and also asked that members check the list of publications to make sure their papers are included.  We would like to include updates (50-100 words) on what people are doing.

Jackie Plunkett noted that ADHA convened a “who’s who” of telehealth in Alice Springs and there is a need for a central repository of information about telehealth.

Anthony Smith reported that a few sites are being considered for SFT-17, at least 2 weeks apart from HINZ.