As Telstra Health moves into the next stage of its evolution from greenfield business to an established service provider, Group Executive New Businesses, Cynthia Whelan, explains how Telstra is using technology to connect up the Australian health system.
We often hear about the growing burden of healthcare costs. People are living longer and chronic health conditions are more prevalent, putting stress on an already stretched the healthcare system. People are also more connected, expecting services and information at their fingertips.
In 2014 we launched Telstra Health as a standalone business in the belief that technology can play a key role in solving the particular challenges faced by the healthcare sector in Australia.
Since then we have invested more than $240 million in acquiring or partnering with 18 innovative health software and analytics companies. We have established a team of around 800 healthcare technology experts serving thousands of customers in the pharmacy, hospital, primary diagnostic, Indigenous health and aged, disability and community care sectors in Australia, as well as Government and insurance companies. In this way we do not see ourselves as a healthcare provider but rather we provide tailored technology solutions to help the health industry find better ways of delivering healthcare in Australia.
As a result of these investments we now provide secure messaging services supporting five million exchanges of health information every year; enable access to more than three million health reports and diagnostic images online to radiographers, pathologists and patients; and provide software that administers 250 million electronic prescriptions for pharmacies each year and supports two-thirds of Aboriginal health services.
At Telstra Health we have completed our acquisition phase and our focus is now on integrating these capabilities and utilising them to deliver new services. For example, we are drawing on our existing capabilities to deliver the National Cancer Screening Register for the Commonwealth Government to create a single electronic record for bowel and cervical cancer screening for millions of Australians.
Our goal long term for health is to provide tailored technology solutions the help improve health delivery, connect the healthcare ecosystem and give patients better access to their health information and services.
It is clear the sector faces some big challenges when it comes to digitising information and processes, making existing systems talk to each other and managing the growing demands being placed on it. Our customers in the health industry would like integrated and interoperable software and open platforms to help them provide better, more efficient services to patients. Achieving this will be our focus for the next phase of our business evolution.
We see some exciting opportunities for us to build platforms that help patients, healthcare providers, Government agencies and insurance companies connect with each other. For example, we are in discussions with providers on building a secure app for patients where they can manage doctor appointments and referrals, access records and images, fill prescriptions and communicate with their insurance company all in the one place.
We believe these sorts of open platforms will breakdown silos in the sector and allow providers to innovate and deliver better patient outcomes at a lower cost.
We also see opportunities to play a role in helping deliver government priorities in health. We are already working hard to deliver the National Cancer Screening Register and are looking at how our software and platforms might maximise the benefits of government initiatives, such as My Health Record and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
As the healthcare sector pursues its digital transformation journey, we will continue to invest in Telstra Health to integrate and enhance our capabilities to develop new platforms that deliver new services to our customers. As we combine our capabilities into an integrated software and platforms business, Telstra Health can be the technology partner of choice and empower Australia’s healthcare sector to find better ways to serve patients in a connected world.