Telstra rolls out telemedicine service in Australia
July 14, 2015
Australian telco Telstra has launched ReadyCare, its GP telemedicine service that gives its customers the choice to connect with a doctor using phone or video and receive advice, treatment, diagnosis and prescriptions.
The service aims to make accessing a doctor easier, especially at times when people may not be able to visit their regular GP such as after hours, on weekends or while travelling.
Shane Solomon, managing director of the Telstra Health division, said ReadyCare had employed registered Australian doctors who would operate the service 24 hours a day. Patients will first speak to a telemedicine assistant to determine if the call is suitable for a telemedicine consultation and a GP will then call them back at a time that suits the patient. The service operates from a purpose built telemedicine centre in the Sydney suburb of Alexandria.
“We’ve seen what the digital revolution has meant for other sectors and we believe that healthcare in Australia will benefit from e-health to better serve all Australians,” Solomon said. “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.”
ReadyCare is based on technology and processes used by Medgate, a European telemedicine provider that conducts more than 4300 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.
Gianin Zogg, who leads Medgate’s international business and has been involved with Medgate since its inception 15 years ago, has been appointed as chief executive officer and Amandeep Hansra has been appointed as the chief medical officer. The service will be advised by a clinical advisory panel of: Chris Mitchell, past president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners; Bruce Chater, past president of the Australian College of Rural & Remote Medicine; and Sally McCarthy, past President of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine.
Solomon emphasised that while ReadyCare would employ the doctors at the time of launch, the long-term aim was for ReadyCare to be available for any GP to use with their regular patients.
“We’re introducing and operating ReadyCare in the first instance to demonstrate how telemedicine services can be provided safely and address issues such as timely access to care, but ultimately we want it to be a platform that will enable GPs to provide convenient and accessible telemedicine services for their own patients,” he said. “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.”
Telstra Health also announced that Cover-More Group, an Australian specialist travel insurance and medical assistance provider, had signed on as a foundation customer of ReadyCare’s telemedicine service. Cover-More Group chief executive officer Peter Edwards said ReadyCare’s service meant that Australians travelling overseas with Cover-More would have the opportunity to consult an Australian-based GP regardless of where they were.
“It is a natural extension of what our customer value proposition is about,” said Edwards. “We can offer our customers the chance to talk to an Australian doctor rather than present to a foreign doctor in a foreign country with a foreign standard of health care. It’s another way that we can keep our customers safe and healthy and allow them to keep travelling.”
Cover-More provides travel insurance to more than 1.8 million Australian travellers every year and has greater than 40 per cent share of the national travel insurance market.