Cost of living pressures may be the name of the game in this year’s Australian federal election, but aged care and healthcare will surely play a big role. The Coalition government has been touting its healthcare cred in the lead up to this year’s budget, citing the billions spent on the COVID response as evidence of healthcare spending, along with the vast sums it can conjure for newly subsidised medicines on the PBS.
It is also touting yet again its “rock-solid commitment to Medicare”, otherwise known as the Medicare guarantee, which outgoing health minister Greg Hunt has used for years as a slogan to push back against Labor accusations of inadequate funding for healthcare and other assorted Mediscares.
This week started off with the interesting news that private health insurer Medibank had invested $10 million in telehealth start-up Medinet. Telehealth start-ups are of course a dime a dozen, promising to revolutionise this and disrupt that, but that’s been the case for the last 10 years or so for those in the business.
We’ve been reporting on telehealth for 15 years and remember the big uptake beginning in 2010-2012, along with health insurer interest in telehealth platforms. For instance, HCF took an early stake in long-standing platform GP2U, which recently sold to UK-based telehealth provider Doctor Care Anywhere for $11m.
It came as a bit of a surprise this week to see that Hills Ltd, formerly of hoist fame and for some time now a player in nurse call, patient infotainment and security IT solutions, had taken a majority share in Extensia, the small Brisbane firm that developed the RecordPoint shared care record. We haven’t heard from Extensia in years and thought they’d gone out of business, but up they popped in an industry survey on Tuesday as a case study for medical software’s value during the COVID pandemic in Australia.
Hills actually took the stake back in November 2021 but is only promoting it publicly now, new Hills CEO David Clarke tells us. The move is part of a renewed focus on the health sector for Hills, which is planning to divest itself of the security IT business, its most profitable asset. Hills has some quality contracts for its patient infotainment, hospital TV and nurse call systems in both hospitals and aged care, as well as a distribution agreement with US firm GetWell for its patient engagement products, but clinical software is a new venture for the company. The company has also cleared two long-standing, multi-million dollar legal actions against it, one dismissed by the Federal Court and the other resolved to everyone’s mutual relief.