DELIVERING medicine is among the most expensive services provided by government.
In a hospital environment there is the cost of investing in skilled professionals, whether they be surgeons, nurses or anaesthetists, as well as funding modern equipment.
With advances in technology, equipment is becoming more crucial in the diagnosis and treatment of a range of conditions.
Governments, facing stretched budgets and competing demands, have to be convinced of the worth of investing in such equipment.
Ideally it should benefit the widest number of patients possible.
With that criteria in mind it is easy to see why the federal and Victorian governments have decided to fund a telemedicine program which makes stroke treatment more accessible for country residents.
It allows the skills of Melbourne neurologists to be used on patients far and wide.
As brain expert Chris Bladin noted, the Australian taxpayer funded his training and his talents should be available to all those residents whether they are in Albury or Albany.
From a patient's viewpoint it allows them to remain in their own environs for assessment, giving them the peace of mind that they won't have to travel three hours for a crucial diagnosis.
This is good news for the wider community into the future.
It should allow more residents to feel they do not need to move to capital cities in their twilight years because of the the lack of access to medical services.
Telemedicine in general shows the importance of having quality communications networks to allow data to be transmitted over great distances.
As Professor Bladin noted telemedicine will become more common in the 21st century and remove the impediment of distance to specialist assistance.
Among those applauding the stroke telemedicine program as very, very exciting was Health Minister Sussan Ley.
Hopefully she can convince her NSW counterpart of its usefulness so residents in places such as Deniliquin can benefit.
Telemedicine demonstrates that state borders should be no barrier to top notch treatment.