Telstra’s new health business unit and Sydney University’s The George Institute have announced a partnership to explore eHealth solutions for Australia’s straining healthcare system.
Telstra Health has put $2 million into the partnership in the first two years to explore eHealth technologies and services.
The new Telstra business unit has already announced ReadyCare to provide over-the-phone GP services including diagnosis, prescriptions and specialist referrals.
This has been criticized by the Australian Medical Association (AMA) as a commercial solution dressed up as a health solution. The AMA says people should maintain regular contact with their GP, not just the odd phone call.
Telstra also has a partnership with the Northern Territory government to deliver specialist medical care to some of Australia’s most remote communities.
The new deal with The George Institute will look at the change required to meet Australia’s rocketing healthcare costs.
Australia’s spending on healthcare is currently 9.4% of GDP and rising.
“It is crucial we take steps to control costs now in order to avoid repeating the experience of the US, where 17% of GDP is currently spent on health care,” says Fiona Turnbull, Head of Strategic Initiatives for The George Institute for Global Health.
“Transformative change in healthcare will need to harness science, technology and entrepreneurship, and be based on the best medical evidence, in order to create safe, sustainable solutions,” says Associate Professor Turnbull.
Australia must develop systems to cope with the growing burden of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory and musculoskeletal conditions, which account for 70% of total health expenditure and 50% of all preventable hospitalisations.
By the age of 65, half of all Australians are living with two or more chronic conditions.
Many fall through the gaps because services are not geared to patients with multiple illnesses.
Shane Solomon, Telstra Health Managing Director, says he wants to create solutions which are simple for clinicians and patients to use.
The George Institute and Telstra Health’s collaboration will focus on:
- Shared electronic health records – sharing of information across providers and with patients
- Electronic decision support systems – systems to support providers and patients to make better decisions about how to manage risk factors and prevent disease
- Home telemonitoring – monitoring of major risk factors such as blood pressure, blood glucose in the home using wireless technology
- Patient self-management tools – tools which help the patient better understand their chronic disease and help them adhere to recommended treatment
- Predictive analytics – using health and other forms of data to predict demand for services.