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Telstra makes health records play

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Telecommunications giant Telstra has extended its foray into health care, acquiring a major stake in a company providing electronic health record systems for hospitals.

Pursuing its search for growth, Telstra has invested in IP Health, whose principal product is the Verdi system, which aggregates patient information from multiple sources across a hospital and presents it as a single view.

The telecommunications company sees IP Health and its Verdi product as an opportunity to extend its reach in the hospital sector.

Telstra Ventures Managing Director Matthew Koertge said IP Health would be an “important asset” for the company in increasing its presence in the burgeoning area of health information systems.

“There are more than 1300 hospitals in Australia, most using multiple systems,” Mr Koertge said. “This new partnership will help IP Health accelerate its growth by combining our strong and trusted brand, our technology know-how and scale with an innovative software solution.”

Telstra has made its foray into the provision of electronic health record systems for hospitals amid doubts about the clinical usefulness of the Federal Government’s much vaunted Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records (PCEHR) system.

The AMA has raised concerns that, as currently designed, the PCEHR is of only limited clinical use because it allows patients to remove or restrict access to information.

The AMA has called for the appointment of a clinical advisory group to review the system’s design and make it a much more useful and valuable resource for both doctors and patients.

The Federal Government has so far resisted such calls, and Health Minister Tanya Plibersek told a conference last month that the PCEHR was steadily establishing itself, with more than 520,000 patients and 5000 health organisations signing up.

Adrian Rollins