Media Release, 22 October 2014

•  Vision for Telstra Health revealed
•  ReadyCare telemedicine joint venture formed with Swiss company Medgate
•  Home health care provider Silver Chain selects Telstra Health eHealth platform
•  NT Health partners with Telstra Health to build National Telehealth Connection Service

Today Telstra officially launched a new business division, Telstra Health, and outlined its ambition to become Australia’s leading provider of integrated eHealth solutions.

Telstra Group Executive of Retail, Gordon Ballantyne, said Telstra had helped Australians connect for more than a century and looked forward to partnering with industry to help advance healthcare.

“We’ve seen what the digital revolution has meant for other industries and we believe that healthcare in Australia could benefit from eHealth to better serve all Australians.” Mr Ballantyne said.

“Telstra Health wants to be the partner of choice in the health industry to connect patients, healthcare workers, hospitals, pharmacies, government and health funds and build a safer, more convenient way of managing health.”

Mr Ballantyne said eHealth could help solve some of the profound challenges facing the health care industry in Australia.

“Health spend is growing more than twice as fast as our economy to nearly 10% of GDP, from $120 billion in 2010 to an estimated $200 billion by 2020. Aging populations, chronic disease and equal access are just some of the challenges faced in bringing quality healthcare to every Australian across a fragmented system.

“Many Australians have a different experience of the healthcare system because of where they live. Seven million people in rural and regional Australia access GP services at a lower rate than the national average.

“We see our role as integrating eHealth solutions across all care settings to solve these industry challenges. Telstra Health is about connecting you to your doctor, your doctor to your other providers, and having access to care and information where you want, when you want.”

Mr Ballantyne said Telstra Health brought together an experienced team of health experts, and he had appointed Shane Solomon, former CEO of the Hong Kong Hospital Authority who brings 30 years experience in the health sector as Managing Director of Telstra Health.

“Through acquisition and partnerships, the team has assembled 10 of the most innovative eHealth companies from Australia and around the world to create leading integrated eHealth solutions, including the one we’re announcing today,” Mr Ballantyne said.

Telstra Health makes GP consultation more accessible and convenient
Telstra announced a new joint venture with world-leading Swiss based telemedicine company Medgate, ‘Telstra ReadyCare’.

The service will see patients talk directly to GPs over video or phone to receive advice, diagnosis, prescriptions, and referrals. ReadyCare is designed to complement regular GP consultations, with information from a telemedicine GP consultation provided back to the patient’s regular GP to ensure continuity of care.

Mr Ballantyne said ReadyCare is aimed at overcoming the challenges of distance and availability to provide greater levels of access. It will operate on a 24/7 basis, and address the estimated 2.2 million of emergency department presentations occurring annually that could have been treated by a GP.

Medgate Chief Executive Officer, and President of the International Society for Telemedicine and eHealth, Dr Andy Fischer, was excited to work with Telstra Health to bring the service to Australia.

“There will be a great demand for telemedical consultations in Australia, and I look forward very much to a successful and exciting collaboration with Telstra Health,” Dr Fischer said.

A Clinical Advisory Panel has been established by ReadyCare to oversee clinical guidelines. Dr Chris Mitchell AM, past President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and Associate Professor Dr Bruce Chater, past President of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine have been appointed to the panel.

Partnering for better health outcomes for all Australians
Mr Ballantyne confirmed Northern Territory Government has partnered with Telstra Health to build a National Telehealth Connection Service, integrating eHealth solutions, including connectivity, video conferencing, and scheduling, to bring specialist medical care to some of Australia’s most remote communities.

The program enables patients to receive more of the care they need in their communities rather than having to travel for more than 17 hours each way for a single appointment.

“The Service is now connecting community health centres in Tennant Creek and Santa Teresa in the Northern Territory with specialist medical care from teaching hospitals. It combines our strength in data connectivity with our new eHealth capabilities to deliver remote specialist health service,” Mr Ballantyne said.

Helping deliver care where it’s needed
It was also announced that Silver Chain Group, one of Australia’s largest and most innovative in-home health and care providers, has chosen Telstra Health to help deliver highly specialist nursing care in the comfort of a person’s own home.

A leader in hospital-in-the-home services, Silver Chain Group will use Telstra Health’s new eHealth platform to more closely monitor the health of patients leaving hospital, intervene to reduce the risk of a health condition from deteriorating, and avoid a return to hospital.

“Hospital medical staff will be able to access a secure portal to keep track of the services provided by Silver Chain and remotely monitor changes in the patient's condition,” Mr Ballantyne said.

Chris McGowan, CEO of Silver Chain Group, said that the organisation is focused on improving outcomes for patients and that using this form of technology will ensure a seamless journey for everyone involved in the provision of care.

“This integrated approach will result in a higher quality of care, better communication between services and more efficient use of health resources,” added Mr Ballantyne.

“These new services show our commitment to work with health services to provide the eHealth solutions they need to deliver the best possible care to patients in their own homes and communities,” Mr Ballantyne said.