​HCF buys 15 percent stake in telehealth startup GP2U

HCF plans to improve the convenience and accessibility of healthcare for members by running an initial pilot program using GP2U's technology platform, before rolling it out to the wider HCF membership.

Australian health fund company HCF has bought a 15 percent stake in telehealth startup GP2U to further improve healthcare support for its customers.

As part of the investment, HCF said it will run an initial pilot program using GP2U's technology platform to improve the convenience and accessibility of healthcare for its members, before it is rolled out to the wider HCF membership.

Specifically, this will mean greater pharmacy services for members, as GP2U has agreements in place with Terry White Chemists and Priceline. According to HCF, once a general practitioner approves a prescription it can be sent directly to the pharmacy for collection.

HCF chief strategy officer Sheena Jack said HCF is constantly looking for new ways to support members in caring for their health, and was impressed with GP2U's end-to-end technology platform.

"With only one doctor per 3,000 rural Australians, compared with one doctor per 1,000 in Australian cities, there is growing demand for reliable telehealth services," she said. "Our research indicates especially for those in regional and rural Australia, the ability to undertake a medical consultation from the comfort of their home is very appealing."

GP2U founder Dr James Freeman remains the majority shareholder of the company. Sonic Healthcare and Medical One co-founder Dr Andrew Pascoe are also other shareholders in the company.

In September last year, Telstra signed a multimillion-dollar three-year contract to exclusively provide telco services, including voice, data, WAN, LAN, and managed services to health insurance company Medibank Private, with the latter saying at the time that it would improve its efficiency, and result in significant savings and greater network security.

The deal was signed after Telstra Health signed a deal to acquire Medibank-developed telehealth service Anywhere Healthcare, which was established by Medibank in 2013 to provide access to more than 1,600 GPs and 26 specialists to those located in regional and remote areas.

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