Telstra highlights eHealth as an emerging opportunity

Telstra has signalled plans to continue to invest in software solutions and platforms as part of a focus on emerging opportunities such as its new Telstra Health division.

Releasing its annual report last week, Telstra revealed that it had paid $44 million for the 100 per cent shareholding it took in DCA eHealth Solutions last September.

DCA's eHealth assets, now rebranded as Health Connex, include the Argus secure messaging service, Communicare clinical software and the TCM aged and community care package, as well as a support contract for the National Health Services Directory (NHSD).

It also paid $27 million for is 50 per cent share of the Fred IT Group, which includes Fred dispensing software and eRx Script Exchange.

While it did not release any revenue figures for these companies, it has placed a goodwill value on Fred of $21m and $16m for Health Connex.

Telstra Health also took out licensing agreements for products such as iScheduler, InstantPHR and Dr Foster Intelligence’s Quality Investigator and Global Comparators products.

It also recently bought the Medinexus radiology and pathology secure messaging solution, although the price has not yet been disclosed.

Last year, it made its first strategic investments in HealthEngine with a 25 per cent share and a 32 per cent share of IP Health, now rebranded as Verdi. It has since invested further in HealthEngine and controls one-third of the company's shares. These investments combined were valued at less than $8m last year.

Telstra Health falls under the Telstra Retail business, headed up by Gordon Ballantyne, which includes its core domestic activities in the fixed and mobile phone and broadband markets for consumers and businesses, pay TV and the NBN.

In its annual report, the telco says the Telstra Health business “continued to work towards its objective of establishing a connected health IT ecosystem capable of creating transformative change in the healthcare sector”.

“Growth to date has been through strategic acquisition and investments, partnership and commercial relationships.

“These investments enable us to play a role in eHealth solutions via means such as connectivity of health services, electronic health records and electronic prescriptions.”

While not part of health business, Telstra is also investing in unified communications and video conferencing solutions. It bought unified communications integrator NSC Group last year for $45 million and recently increased its investment in video streaming and analytics firm Ooyala to 98 per cent as part of its new Global Applications and Platforms (GAP) group.

These investments are dwarfed by the money it is putting into its own mobile and WiFi infrastructure, including $1.1 billion in its 4G mobile network, which Telstra says now reaches 87 per cent of the Australian population. 3G is available to 99.3 per cent of the population.

It is also building Australia’s largest national public Wi-Fi access network, in a $100 million project to deliver 13 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world over the next five years.

Telstra Health representatives told the Information Technology in Aged Care conference last month that it planned to soon release details of a platform it hopes will bring together the data held in GP, aged care and pharmacy systems.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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