Healthdirect Australia and telehealth startup Coviu announced a partnership whereby Coviu will power the government-funded Video Call platform, a consulting service for health in Australia.

Video Call was developed to help healthcare providers offer their services direct to patients via video consultation and integrate telehealth as an everyday part of a modern Australian health system.

"With healthcare services more easily accessible in metro areas, telehealth – which includes phone, web and video-based health services – can bridge geographical barriers and provides quality healthcare to people living in rural and remote areas," Karen Borg, CEO of Healthdirect Australia, told HealthcareITNews.

She explained telehealth, and video consultations in particular, is also beneficial in metro areas, where people are too sick, disabled or disadvantaged to travel to see a GP.

Borg said Healthdirect worked closely with Coviu to develop the software to meet the requirements of Video Call, a government-funded service.

Borg noted that a key component was ensuring a smooth transition of user data for organisations, maintaining a simple and accessible way for their customers to access the service via a single point of entry.

"More convenient services are what people all across Australia are looking for, and that applies to health services too," she explained. "We have over 90 specialties using Healthdirect Video Call, so the spectrum is wide."

More than 5,500 service providers and thousands of online clinics in hospitals, medical centres and GP practices across Australia have been migrated across to the Coviu-powered Healthdirect Video Call as of 1 September.

When it comes to security, Borg noted that from a patient's point of view, Healthdirect ensures there is no digital footprint kept post the consult.

That means all of the video, audio, chat or shared screens during the consult are direct (peer-to-peer) between patient and clinician only and are fully encrypted.

The platform already has the support of the Commonwealth Department of Health, which is encouraging PHNs to use Video Call in the areas of healthcare homes, after hours care, aged care, palliative care and mental health by offering a free trial of the service until 30 June 2020.

The service is managed by Healthdirect Australia on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Health, WA Health and Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

"Telehealth has the potential to change the way we engage with healthcare services in this country, and although we have seen great progress over the past five or six years, there is still a long way to go if we think about how it could be fully integrated into a modern health system," Borg said.

She noted patients are increasingly expecting it and the government is committed to digitising services across the board, which makes her confident that telehealth will be at the core of healthcare in the future.

"I'd also add that the advent of AI tools will play a key role in assisting clinicians during the consult, and the new Healthdirect Video Call platform is already geared for it with the clinical tools/add-ons that we have access to via Coviu's ecosystem," she said.

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