Telstra has propelled its existing health services business into a new standalone division as it pushes into the online healthcare sector with new provider partnerships as well as a new service connecting GPs with rural and regional patients.
The new health unit will come under the remit of Telstra retail head Gordon Ballantyne and will be led by the division's new managing director Shane Solomon, formerly of KPMG.
It seeks to provide the telco with a new revenue stream outside its traditional fixed-line and mobile businesses.
Telstra Health will aim to partner with healthcare providers and other organisations to connect patients with hospitals, doctors, government and health funds, among others.
The telco today announced it had partnered with the Swiss provider of online health services Medgate to launch the new "Telstra ReadyCare" joint venture, which will allow rural and regional patients to connect to GPS over video or phone 24/7.
ReadyCare is designed to complement GP consultations and overcome distance and availability issues to provide patients with advice, prescriptions, referrals and diagnosis, Telstra said.
It has also teamed up with the Northern Territory government to create a national telehealth connection service, which will bring specialist medical care to remote communities through video conferencing and other methods of connectivity.
Ballantyne said the service was already in use in community health centres in Tennant Creek and Santa Teresa, connecting the centre to teaching hospitals.