A pathway towards a personalised healthcare system


Bupa has welcomed the decision by the Federal Government to make telehealth a permanent part of the Medicare system.

The announcement represents a significant step forward in improving the choices available to Australians as to where and how they receive treatment.

COVID-19 has accelerated the delivery and take-up of telehealth which was originally estimated to become a fixture of the Australian healthcare system in 2030[1].

Bupa’s Managing Director of Health Insurance Emily Amos said the company decided to fund telehealth services for popular Extras such as physiotherapy and psychology during the early stages of COVID-19. Since March 2020, Bupa has funded over 21,000 consultations delivered via telephone and videoconferencing valued at over $1 million in benefits.

“Initially the decision was about making sure customers could continue to access healthcare uninterrupted during lockdown periods. However, we were the first health insurer to acknowledge that there was no turning back, telehealth was popular and it was here to stay,” Ms Amos said.

“The Federal Government’s announcement on telehealth represents a significant step forward in listening to the market and placing patient experiences at the centre of healthcare reform.”

During recent years, Bupa has expanded its out-of-hospital treatment coverage for new and innovative models of care related to common treatments such as rehabilitation, chemotherapy and mental health. The provision of services at home helped deliver more positive patient experiences with the same clinical outcomes.

Just like a mobile phone is no longer something you only make calls with, 2020 has shown us that a home can be a hub for far more than just family life. It can be an office, a classroom, a gym and significantly, a place to receive healthcare.

“Leveraging the flexibility that comes with remote healthcare is vital for attracting tech-savvy young Australians to private health insurance who have grown up using apps and smartphones for everything from ordering food to dating,” Ms Amos said.

To further enhance flexibility in healthcare and reduce unnecessary costs, Ms Amos called for greater collaboration between health insurers, government, hospitals and health professionals.

“The only way we can help customers to claim on more flexible, personalised, home and community-based healthcare options delivered outside of expensive hospital settings is through clever reform that looks beyond the rules and practices developed last century.

“New reforms that give people more choice of where and how they receive healthcare will enable us to expand our home treatment coverage even further, keep premiums down and put the customer back in charge of their own health,” said Ms Amos.

[1] https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/doorstop-interview-on-27-november-2020

Media reference number: 20/103