Telecommunications carrier Telstra has signed a multimillion-dollar three-year contract to exclusively provide telco services to health insurance company Medibank Private, with the latter saying that this will improve its efficiency and result in significant savings for the company.
The deal will see Telstra provide Medibank, which has 3.9 million members in Australia, with voice, mobile, data, service management, and managed WAN and LAN services. According to Telstra, this will enable Medicare to save around 37 percent of its current telco-related expenditure by unifying its services under one provider, rather than the eight providers it used prior to this.
Under the deal, Medibank's WAN and LAN equipment will be updated by the telco in order to increase capability and lessen the risk of network disruption. Telstra will also automate its service management solution and implement its new Mobile Business Fleet Plus plan.
Medibank explained that having all of its services under one provider would also help it deliver better services to customers -- including its efforts to deliver telehealth to remote areas.
"We also provide complementary services including health management and telehealth services for government and the private sector that sees Medibank delivering a broad range of nurse triage, GP, counselling, and mental health services nationally, 24/7, with volumes exceeding 2 million calls per annum," said Medibank chief operating officer David Koczkar.
"As a diverse and far-reaching business, we depend on our telecommunications to support our members and to provide critical health advice to Australians when they need it most. Our new, enhanced partnership with Telstra means we can streamline and consolidate our network into one provider, enhance our service levels through improved innovation and new technologies, and continue to help our members along their health journey."
Telstra said the partnership would allow Medibank to become more flexible and provide higher-quality, reliable services to its customers.
"We're delighted Medibank is realising the benefits of a broad range of solutions from Telstra, including the collaborative environment through the use of Skype for Business across its corporate office and retail locations. As a managed cloud solution, this will transform employee interactions, increase information sharing, and enhance convenience; all crucial factors in any flexible working environment," said Martijn Blanken, chief customer officer at Telstra.
In April, Telstra Health signed a deal to acquire Medibank-developed telehealth service Anywhere Healthcare.
Anywhere Healthcare, established by Medibank in 2013, provides access to more than 1,600 GPs and 26 specialists to those located in regional and remote areas.
"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," said Telstra group executive of retail Gordon Ballantyne in April.
"Medibank has developed a wonderful service, and we are delighted to be able to assume responsibility for this going forward."
Telstra Health also acquired UK health analytics company Dr Foster in March.
Telstra Health was itself launched in October 2014, with the express purpose of bringing telehealth services to those in remote areas.
"Healthcare at its core is about connectivity. It is about how you can get better information flows going between doctor, GP, specialist, the pharmacist," then-CEO David Thodey said at the time.
"[But] it's more than just connectivity. It is about how you allow the information to flow through that. We've taken a very long-term view on it, and we're excited about the possibilities with partnering with healthcare providers and the community.
"We're not doctors, we're not medical practitioners, but we can enable, and that's what we want to do."
Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) is aiming to provide those living in rural and remote areas with access to high-speed broadband in order to enable them, amongst other things, to use such services as telehealth.
The NBN's fixed-wireless network is now being implemented in regional and remote areas, to cover 5 percent of the population, as well as the new satellite service launching in October, which will cover 3 percent of the Australian population.
"We will have the whole country covered," Communications Minister cum Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said at the beginning of September.