George Institute and Telstra Health announce $2m partnership

The George Institute today announced a partnership with Telstra Health to bring innovative solutions for some of the most pressing healthcare challenges.

At an event at Parliament House, Telstra Health committed $2 million towards this collaboration in the first two years, recognising the need to work with industry partners to ensure technology meets industry needs and is underpinned by science and rigorous research.

The purpose of the collaboration is to explore the impact of eHealth technologies and services in supporting healthcare delivery and outcomes and identify and develop eHealth innovations to support new models of care.

Associate Professor Fiona Turnbull, Head of Strategic Initiatives for The George Institute for Global Health, said some of the transformative change required to meet Australia’s rocketing healthcare costs can be best achieved through collaborations.

“While Australia’s spending on healthcare is currently moderate at 9.4% of GDP, spending is rising. It is crucial we take steps to control costs now in order to avoid repeating the experience of the US, where 17% of GDP is currently spent on health care,” Associate Professor Turnbull said.

“Transformative change in healthcare will need to harness science, technology and entrepreneurship, and be based on the best medical evidence, in order to create safe, sustainable solutions.”

In particular, she said, Australia must develop systems to cope with the growing burden of chronic diseases from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory and musculoskeletal conditions, which account for 70% of total health expenditure and 50% of all preventable hospitalisations.

“By the age of 65 years, half of all Australians are living with two or more chronic conditions. Many patients ‘fall through the gaps’ because services are not geared to patients with multiple co-morbidities,” Associate Professor Turnbull said.

“Integration of care is critical for chronic diseases, which are ‘lifelong’ and often involve multiple care providers.”

Shane Solomon, Telstra Health Managing Director, said that Telstra’s vision for a more connected healthcare system could only be achieved by working with providers, funders, government and research organisations such as The George Institute.

“We want to bring together leading eHealth technologies to create new solutions that are simple for clinicians and patients to use. We are convinced that our collaboration with The George Institute will help us do that,” Mr Solomon said.

“The insights that The George Institute provide will ensure that our strategy and solutions continue to be underpinned by the best evidence and influenced by the needs and experience of clinicians and their patients.”

The George Institute and Telstra Health’s collaboration is expected to focus on technology and solutions capable of addressing key system challenges including:

  • Shared electronic health records – sharing of information across providers and with patients
  • Electronic decision support systems – systems to support providers and patients to make better decisions about how to manage risk factors and prevent disease
  • Home telemonitoring – monitoring of major risk factors such as blood pressure, blood glucose etc in the home using wireless technology
  • Patient self-management tools – tools which help the patient better understand their chronic disease and help them adhere to recommended treatment
  • Predictive analytics – using health and other forms of data to predict demand for services.

Research will include other partners where relevant, such as patient advocacy groups, local health districts and professional organisations.