Telstra's GP telemedicine service, ReadyCare, is up and running

Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images

House calls by a doctor have a whole new meaning with Telstra launching ReadyCare, its telemedicine service, today.

The telco’s health division has built the digital project, including a purpose-built centre in Sydney’s Alexandria. It lets people speak to a doctor via phone or video for advice, treatment, diagnosis and prescriptions. Patients are screened, first up, to see if they’re suitable for an e-health consultation.

Telstra Health managing director Shane Solomon said the 24/7 service was the next logical step in Australian health care in the digital era. There’s even a smartphone app, as well as a toll-free number to call.

“This will provide choice and convenience for people to access a GP regardless of their location or the time of day, particularly in circumstances when they find it hard to access a face to face doctor. Patients can talk with a GP using phone or video, upload images of their condition and receive comprehensive care,” he said.

“ReadyCare is based on technology and processes used by Medgate, the leading telemedicine provider in Europe, who currently conduct more than 4,300 telemedicine consultations daily. The evidence-based clinical guidelines have been refined to meet Australian conditions, with input from a Clinical Advisory Panel and delivered by qualified, Australian-based doctors.”

Solomon said the long term aim is for ReadyCare to be a backup for any GP to use with their regular patients.

“ReadyCare is intended to be a complementary service, not a replacement for a regular face to face GP appointment. Telemedicine has proven very effective in delivering quality care for patients in other parts of the world, especially the USA and Europe and we are confident Australians will embrace the service,” he said.

Travel insurance company Cover-More had signed on as one of ReadyCare’s foundation customers, giving Australians travelling overseas the chance to consult with an Australian-based GP.

But the convenience of talking to the doctor from home doesn’t come cheaply, and the $75.90 cost does not yet have a Medicare rebate.

While the cost of setting up ReadyCare hasn’t been disclosed by Telstra Health, the business Telstra Health has invested around $100 million in acquisitions, joint ventures and other businesses, and is aiming for $1 billion in revenue by 2020.

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