Minutes of the 2018 Annual General Meeting

Australasian Telehealth Society: Annual General Meeting 30 October 2018

Held at the Darwin Convention Centre

Chair:  Jackie Plunkett (President)

2018 Report from the ATHS President

Happy Birthday ATHS!  The Australasian Telehealth Society is turning 10 this year.  Over this time, we have seen telehealth evolve.  Ever since Tori Wade’s fateful comment, “More pilots than Qantas,” the telehealth industry has matured.  We have gone from everyone trialling or piloting telehealth, to the emergence of telehealth as an enabler to enhance clinical care.  We are now changing our focus to how can Telehealth, in all its forms, health service delivery BETTER!  What a shift in thinking we have had over this time.

The move in how technology is a barrier to the uptake to telehealth is becoming less and less, the focus is now on the regulatory restrictions we are now facing.  Our funding models need to keep up with new ways of delivering services.

The introduction of telehealth consultations for GP’s into drought-stricken farmers homes is an introduction of common sense in the delivery of clinical services in a patient-centric manner.  Let’s hope that this common sense approach continues.

Over the past year we have:

  • Sent out 12 This Week in Telehealth newsletters to members (TWIT) and 20 other email blasts i.e. Re renew ATHS membership, ATHS Corp sponsor drive, SFT-18 Corp exhibitors wanted, webinars, AGM notice, nomination of Office bearers etc
  • Added additional resources to the ATHS website which has had 3882 visits over the past 12 months an increase of 8% over the past 12 months.
  • Our mailing list sits at 603, including 15 corporate partners
  • Maintained a social media presence through h 129 Facebook, 224 Twitter and 198 LinkedIn followers
  • Developed a submission to the Australian Digital Health Agency regarding the National Digital Health Strategy “Framework for Action” 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.
  • Provided input into the current Standards Australia IT-014 Health Informatics Committee regarding:
    • Review of Aged Care Standards; and
    • Provision of Australian input to the revision of ISO/TC Health Informatics – telehealth services – Quality planning guidelines to become a full ISO standard.
  • Representation on the ACRRM Rural and Remote Digital Innovation Group; and
  • Establishment of contacts with individuals and organisations internationally (USA, Brazil and Canada)

What is becoming evident both here and overseas is that the use of telehealth is increasing.  The question of telehealth has moved from, “Why would you use telehealth?” to “Why wouldn’t you use it?”!  This is the change in culture we have been waiting for as clinicians and telehealth evangelists we need to ensure that we grasp this opportunity.

Changes in the way health services are delivered is also shifting to an app based wellness focus rather than a reactive management focus.  I am encouraged by new technologies that take out the middle man and make access to healthcare more streamlined.  Consumer products such as the Apple Watch and other technologies are starting to get FDA and TGA approval.  This robustness and clinical integrity can start to give clinicians some sense of comfort that telehealth is clinically safe.  This will help to drive a change in how we view telehealth.

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.

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); Susan Jury (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; Alice King, Melissa Vernon, 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 congratulate Professor 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 2019!

Jackie Plunkett

President, Australasian Telehealth Society
October 2018

Report of the ATHS Vice President: Telehealth Standards

The ATHS is now a full member of the Standards Australia IT-014 Health Informatics Committee and is represented by Alan Taylor. Current work items include:

  • Review of Aged Care standards; and
  • Provision of Australian input to Revision of ISO/TC Health informatics — Telehealth services — Quality planning guidelines to become a full ISO standard.

This representation also provides a window on international health informatics standardisation work.


The ATHS is represented on the ACRRM Rural and Remote Digital Innovation Group (RRDIG) by Alan Taylor.

The ACRMM RRDIG is the continuation of the successful National ACRRM Telehealth Advisory Group 2012-18. This collaboration of more than 20 médical and healthcare, peak bodies, government, associations and organisations with interests in ensuring high quality, safe and effective digital innovation and telehealth supporting Rural and Remote communities provides advice to ACRRM through its digital health and quality and safety committee.

It provides a useful focus for information and lobbying on telehealth related issues.


A recent visit to Brazil and Argentina by Alan Taylor established a number of contacts with individuals and organisations providing extensive telehealth services.

The Brazilian and Argentinian telehealth societies are keen to collaborate with the ATHS by sharing information, and other collaborations. Both these countries face similar geographical challenges as Australia does for health care at a distance. In particular the Brazilian experience of national special interest telehealth groups could help the development of Australian telehealth communities of practice.

ATHS Website

The ATHS website hosts a list of publications about telehealth in Australian and New Zealand. It is important to keep this up to date. If anyone would like to assist Alan Taylor in this work any support would be most welcome.

Alan Taylor

Vice-President, ATHS

ATHS Treasurer’s Report for the period July 1 2017 to 30 June 2018.

ATHS has a National Australia Bank (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.

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. Membership (both corporate and individual) remains consistent from previous years. The ATHS constitutional changes endorsed by the committee have changed the membership renewal from calendar year to financial year. This should be of benefit for membership and marketing strategies that are aimed at professionals and occur before the end of financial year.

ATHS started the financial year with 2 x Term Deposit Accounts, rolled over on a 6-month cycle to maximize interest whilst allowing access for strategic activities.  The least of the term deposits (Term Deposit 2) was closed in February 2018 after a net loss at the SFT-17 conference of $8500 (Investment of $10,000 = return of $2,500). The remaining Term Deposit (Term Deposit 1) has recently been renewed on a 10 month investment cycle.

ATHS has committed to sponsoring a booth at SFT-18 at the cost of $4,400 and, as in past years, remain equal stakeholders with the University of Queensland for an equal share in the SFT-18 Conference profit.

A new ATHS marketing and corporate sponsorship strategy was launched in 2018 which includes options for banner advertising on the fortnightly newsletter – This Week In Telehealth (TWIT). One corporate sponsor has taken advantage of advertising through the TWIT, with an email list of over 600 members. This strategy will continue and the ATHS committee remains committed to exploring new ways of creating revenue.

As of the 2017 AGM, there are two action items for the treasurer;

  • Financial Audit to be conducted for the 14/15 16/17 financial years. UPDATED ACTION: the ATHS executive committee approved the proposal for a financial review via email correspondence in August 2018. A Financial Review was actioned after advice form accountants on the requirement for a full financial audit (over 250k income per year, or suspicion of unauthorized activity). The ATHS Executive Committee concluded that at Financial Review was suitable for the ATHS committee. As of August 2018, a Financial Review contracted with Not For Profit Accounting Services for 17/18 financial year (cost $700). It is hoped that the Financial Review process will ensure best practice protocols are being followed for ongoing management of the committee’s finances.
  • The Executive Committee endorsed subscribing to the cloud based accounting system (Xero). UPDATED ACTION: Subscription for the Xero accounting system is on hold. All financial matters are currently manually processed with delegated approval from the President, then actioned by the Treasurer through NAB online banking and PayPal. The committee will continue to consider options to enrich the committee’s financial management, however, for the short term and with consideration to recent financial losses the cost for a subscription is not justified for the limited amount financial of activity.

Activity statements are available on request.

Michelle McGuirk

Treasurer, ATHS