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Telemedicine and energy reform

How will telemedicine disrupt unreferred medical services?

In a new report, Venture Insights have undertaken analysis that considers the future of unreferred medical services (general practitioner like services) regarding digital health tools.

We believe that telemedicine will play a large roll in reshaping Australia’s health model in the medium term from one of ‘curing illnesses’ towards a full-blown pre-emptive health and wellbeing model. Telehealth which is fully within our current technology capabilities will assist health consumers with earlier detection and consultation on health matters by being more accessible. It is also in the interest of health practitioners and governments to get behind this, though they have been relatively slow to adopt technology and modern practices historically.

There is a strong incentive for governments to support telemedicine as it will reduce overall costs while improving efficiency and access to health services. Governments will first, however, need to be convinced that the platforms that provide such services are both secure and auditable before providing full funding support.

Patients will have access to a medical professional at a lower cost and with improved convenience, as they will visit a doctor more regularly, which reduces the likelihood of illness progression. This will contribute to an overall reduction in health expenditure driven by better diagnostics and early prevention tools.

GPs that elect to provide telemedicine services will also benefit from the transition that will allow them to earn more through more efficient consultations.  We review two models for telemedicine and conclude that a “GP friendly” model will prevail over a “call centre” alternative – though these are not mutually exclusive.

Telemedicine will positively affect the overall health market, reducing expenditure and enhancing efficiency in the provision of general practitioner services. Government spending on emergency services will fall as consumers will engage GPs more often. More regular consultations will contribute to the improved well-being of society and reduced costs of healthcare.

Energy reforms in Australia

For the past 10 or 15 years successive Australian governments have failed to deliver a coherent energy policy, notwithstanding the many reviews and reports that have been commissioned, and ever louder and louder calls from key constituents (regulators, infrastructure owners, energy generators and retailers, and business and household consumers). Having all but got there on the National Energy Guarantee (or NEG), it was abandoned by the Government in favour of a change of the Prime Minister.

Earlier in October 2018, Scott Morrison revived the "big stick" approach which, if passed through legislation, would provide the Government the power to force the break-up of energy companies. Recently, the federal government softened the proposed laws following stiff resistance from the Coalition and businesses. The Treasurer will no longer have the sole power to break-up the energy companies – the Federal Court will preserve the right to make the final decision. Clearly, all the major so called ‘gentailers’ (i.e. generators and retailers) will oppose such a move which would result in their vertically integrated businesses being dismantled.

This approach parallels the proposal where the Government sought to dismantle Telstra’s ‘last mile’ copper network from its customer facing business. Given the constitutional issues (see section 51 (31) of our Constitution) surrounding ‘appropriation of private property’, the Government was forced to stand down in favour of creating NBN Co as an entirely new last mile fibre business.  Across in NZ, Telecom New Zealand (now Spark) did go down this route of divesting its copper assets into what is now Chorus (the NBN Co look alike). In hindsight, the better long-term economic solution was probably the approach taken by New Zealand.

Energy policy in Australia has never been a straightforward issue. A former energy minister of Australia described this as the "energy trilemma" in November 2016: "it is a big job to ensure stability, security, and reliability in the energy system, while at the same time balancing the costs to industry and consumers and the need for a transition to a low carbon, low-emissions economy". This statement precisely depicts why Australia has been struggling with energy regulation for longer than a decade now.

We at Venture Advisory agree that the path to any energy policy may be ambiguous given the many factors affecting it. However, we believe that sustainable and cheaper energy is ultimately the way to go and that the absence of an energy policy at all is our worst-case scenario. We would urge the Government (whomever is in power) to put an end to their politicking and step up and do something that is in Australia’s interest.

Note: Views expressed by Venture Insights are independent of Venture Advisory and may not reflect the views and opinions of Venture Advisory.

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