Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Is Seems Telstra Is About To Make A Big Splash in Telemedicine. I Wonder How Heavily It Will Be Used?

There was a great deal of coverage after the Telstra Press Release.

Telstra Health’s ReadyCare new option to connect patients to doctors

Telstra Health today launched ReadyCare, its GP telemedicine service that gives Australians the choice to connect with a doctor using phone or video and receive advice, treatment, diagnosis and prescriptions.
The service will 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. It can be accessed by calling 1800 READYCARE (1800 732392) or through the ReadyCare app.
Shane Solomon, Managing Director of Telstra Health, said that ReadyCare has employed registered Australian doctors who will 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 eHealth to better serve all Australians,” Mr 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, the leading telemedicine provider in Europe, who currently conduct more than 4,300 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,” Mr Solomon said.
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 Dr Amandeep Hansra has been appointed as the Chief Medical Officer. The service will be advised by a Clinical Advisory Panel of:
  • Dr Chris Mitchell AM, past President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
  • Associate Professor Bruce Chater OAM, past President of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine
  • Associate Professor Sally McCarthy, past President of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine
Mr Solomon emphasised that while ReadyCare will employ the doctors at the time of launch, the long term aim is 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.
“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,” Mr Solomon said.
Telstra Health also announced that Cover-More Group, Australia’s leading specialist travel insurance and medical assistance provider, had signed on as a foundation customer of ReadyCare’s telemedicine service.
The release with more details is found here:
Typical press coverage was found here:

Telstra's GP telemedicine service, ReadyCare, is up and running

Simon Thomsen Jul 2, 2015, 11:10 AM
and here:

Telstra launches its telemedicine service

ReadyCare opens for consultations
and here:

24/7 televideo e-health: the doctor will see you now … via video

Mitchell Bingemann

It seems the service plans to charge between $70 and $80 per consultation so it will be interesting how heavily used the service is and just what level of patient satisfaction is achieved.
We can track how it is going by seeing how Telstra Health’s revenue rises over time I guess. Will be interesting.
Will also be interesting to see how the medico-legal issues etc. have been resolved.
(Disclosure - I have a few Telstra Shares in my super fund)


Anonymous said...

It's a lot of hype - the business model does not stack up. This leaves Shane Solomon with no option other than to continue pushing the rhetoric / hype internally in Telstra in the hope that senior management will not ask the hard questions.

Anonymous said...

What is your rationale behind 'it's all hype, the business model does not stack up'? Are you saying Telehealth is all hype and there is no stackable business model? I am quite sure Telstra are more the capabile of running a mid to long term strategy.

Anonymous said...

I think it might have something to do with telehealth "having more pilots than qantas" as the tired joke goes.

Bernard Robertson-Dunn said...

I didn't post the earlier comment, but here's back of the envelop business model based upon nothing but years of financial modelling/budgeting experience.

Assume one health professional conducts 40 telemedicine consultations per week for 40 weeks per year.

Assume a selling price of $80 per consultation.

Assume the costs are the pay of the health professional plus 100% on-costs.

Based upon these simplistic and very low costs, how much can you afford to pay the health professional?

Answer $64,000/year.

Does this stack up? Not in my model.

There are only two ways of making money

1. high margin, low volume
2. low margin, high volume

Health is a high cost value added service for a telco - way above salary plus on-cost.

Telemedicine is likely to be low volume but very high cost. Which means that when you add a high margin the price is totally unrealistic. And if you try low margin, the cost will still be very high but you won't make much money - so why bother?

re "...Telstra are more than capabile of running a mid to long term strategy." I'm sure they are capable of running such a service, but make money out of it? I'm not so sure.

I've seen our national telcos do some pretty stupid things, ever since I first worked for one in the early 1970s. All these stupid things were attempts at value added services.

Anonymous said...

If you July 08, 2015 9:09 PM don't understand the basics of business modelling in this part of the health sector you need a lot of help. If you haven't watched Telstra's antics during and since the dot.com boom you need glasses. They are masters of the art of acquiring small promising ICT companies on hype, puffing everything up, draining them of the life blood that underpinned their initial success (pre acquisition) then dropping them like a lump of lead into a big black hole and moving on to the next great thing.

You are fortunate to have such a masterly teacher provide you with the ABC of business modelling. Thank you Bernard - very clear, imminently sensible reasoning as always.

Anonymous said...

The other aspect not discussed is the little matter of trust.. As Telstra moves higher up the "Stack" and markets directly to consumers there is both the business model/cost structure in an environment of declining real wages but also whether one might feel comfortable trusting their near monopoly Telco to also be benign at best with regards to the healthcare service provision.

Anonymous said...

"(Disclosure - I have a few Telstra Shares in my super fund)"

I think its value will ultimately a matter of how much Telstra can maintain its market monopoly in various areas, via political protection, lobbying, taxpayer give aways, etc. Maybe they can manipulate Healthcare Policies/Projects, Medicare and other Incentives to benefit them more than others???

I'm NOT glad to see them make huge 'profits', pay senior management handsomely, and waste money on the latest IT acquired fad, while 'decent' broadband - where you can get it - costs about $100 or more monthly.

(Disclosure - I have no Telstra Shares in my super fund, and not likely to see much of my super fund in the long term, with all the expenses and costs of government deferred onto younger and future generations... I wonder what will be 'privatised' next?)