Reimburse online medicine and relieve logjams, says e-health boss

The founder of Australian digital health start-up CliniCloud has called on the Turnbull government to introduce a reimbursement for online services, arguing it is the way forward in healthcare in an ageing population.


Chief executive Andrew Lin said support for telemedicine played into Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s innovation agenda and the recent launch of the Healthier Medicare package that was aimed at supporting ­patients with multiple chronic conditions.

Mr Lin said Australia had been slow to embrace consumer-facing digital health systems because of a lack of government incentives.

“Once telemedicine is reimbursed the same way as an in-person visit, there’s no question it will take off,” he said.

“If I can see my doctor over the internet, at home, I will — if I don’t have to pay too much out of my own pocket.

“In the US, parity laws for telemedicine and in-person visits are now in place for more states than not.”

Mr Lin said while the company was gaining offshore attention he was keen to work with the Australian government on initiatives it was developing to address Australia’s rising healthcare needs in an increasingly ageing population.

He said CliniCloud could play a role in the recently announced package for chronically ill ­patients.

“They are just forming the start of the chronic health plan and over the next few months as they flesh it out, I’d love to get involved on how they frame that plan,” he said.

“It makes a lot of sense for a home trial for chronic patients to use devices that are easy to use by the patients and by their ­carers.

“We think we can add a lot of value to some of the initiatives the government is thinking about.”

CliniCloud offers a connected medical kit, including a digital stethoscope and non-contact thermometer, designed for the home. The program integrates recordings from the two devices and brings them together in one online application. The app also provides metrics such as respiratory rate and heart rate.

In the US, consumers with CliniCloud also have access to Doctor on Demand, enabling them to video chat with a physician and get their heart and lung sounds examined as if they were there in person. The company hopes to roll out Doctor on ­Demand in other regions.

Mr Lin said Australia was still getting to grips with the idea of digital health and home healthcare.

He said CliniCloud could be a poster child of the Australian innovation movement.

“We see that healthcare is moving towards having more healthcare services delivered directly to the patient at home, especially patient-initiated type of care,” he said.

“By doing that it improves health outcomes and shifts a lot of costs from a hospital, clinic-based setting to your home.”

He said the “healthcare revolution” was not an easy under­taking and that there were still many pieces of the puzzle that need to come together for it to happen.

“But there is a strong will globally for it to happen. We are developing the building blocks for hopefully a drastic evolution in health.”



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