Telstra buys Medibank’s Anywhere Healthcare telehealth service

Telstra Health has bought the business assets of health insurer Medibank's Anywhere Healthcare telehealth service.

Anywhere Healthcare was first established in 2013 to provide a panel of medical specialists that GPs can access for free. It was set up to take advantage of the federal government's telehealth initiative, which allows GPs and specialists to claim a higher rebate for conducting video conferences with patients in rural and remote areas.

It was first trialled in Gladstone and Darwin in 2012, and went live nationally in May 2013, providing specialist services in disciplines such as psychiatry, dermatology and gerontology.

Anywhere Healthcare now has a network of over 1600 GP and aged care referral partners and a panel of 26 specialists who provide services across a range of specialties.

Last year, Telstra Health made waves when it announced it would launch a full-service, direct-to-GP telehealth service called ReadyCare, partnering with Swiss firm Medgate. The plan is to offer ReadyCare initially as a workplace health provider and to patients on a paid basis in advance of the potential listing of GP-to-patient telehealth on the MBS.

Telstra Health plans to employ GPs for ReadyCare but will also offer the technology platform to private practice. Features will include online diagnostic services, specialist referrals and electronic prescriptions.

Telstra also provides some technology to insurance company HCF for the telemonitoring service it runs for patients with chronic illnesses in association with Healthways.

In addition to last week's announcement that Telstra Health had bought UK health analytics firm Dr Foster, Telstra Health's total investment in eHealth and health IT is now well over $150 million.

Telstra's group executive for retail, Gordon Ballantyne, said that when combined with ReadyCare, the Anywhere Healthcare solution would provide Telstra Health with a framework to provide a full spectrum of care options via telehealth, from GP services through to specialists and allied health.

Mr Ballantyne said in a statement that the integration of Anywhere Healthcare was a logical fit with Telstra Health and would allow for a more comprehensive approach to telemedicine.

“Medibank has developed a wonderful service and we are delighted to be able to assume responsibility for this going forward,” Mr Ballantyne said.

“We are keen to build the service and increase options for GPs, specialists and care providers in providing high quality care to their patients. It aligns perfectly with our aim to overcome the challenges of distance and availability to help provide greater levels of access to medicine, especially for those in regional and remote areas.

“We recognise the central role of GPs in managing the care of their patients. Anywhere Healthcare provides a patient’s regular GP the option of referring them to a specialist for a video conference, providing more convenient access to specialist care that can otherwise be difficult to reach because of distance or in circumstances such as for patients in nursing homes.”

Medibank chief operating officer, David Koczkar, said the transaction would support further development and expansion of the Anywhere Healthcare service.

“We are really proud of the innovation we introduced with Anywhere Healthcare, and the solid foundation that we have built over the past few years,” Mr Koczkar said.

“Telstra Health will provide the additional support, focus, and expertise required to expand this important service and we look forward to working together to develop further opportunities for Anywhere Healthcare.”

The Anywhere Healthcare business will transfer to Telstra Health in early May 2015.

Posted in Australian eHealth

You need to log in to post comments. If you don't have a Pulse+IT website account, click here to subscribe.

Sign up for Pulse+IT eNewsletters

Sign up for Pulse+IT website access

For more information, click here.