Bupa Reveals Future Healthcare Vision: Connected Care

June 17, 2024

Bupa has signalled its vision for the future of healthcare, unveiling a roadmap to create a more connected and personalised journey across physical and digital channels with an initial focus on supporting customers with mental health, type 2 diabetes, musculoskeletal health, oral and eye health issues.

Underpinned by Bupa's current healthcare programs and network of dental practices and optical stores, the Connected Care strategy will bring together in-person and virtual care, supported by digital technology and partnerships.

As part of a multi-year investment bolstering its current services, Bupa is initially focused on acquiring healthcare centres that will offer integrated GP, allied health, and pathology services. The centres will be open to anyone, not just Bupa Health Insurance customers.

Over the coming years, Bupa plans to expand its provision footprint, building on its existing network of 178 dental clinics and 49 optical and hearing stores, to create a nationally distributed network of healthcare centres.

Along with healthcare centres, a range of strategic Connected Care initiatives are being introduced through Bupa's digital health platform, Blua. These include:

  • A door-to-door chemist delivery service recently launched to all 4.3 health insurance customers.
  • 24/7 virtual doctor consultations – currently available to international Bupa health insurance customers – and almost one million of domestic health insurance customers as part of a trial where they can access up to three free consultations per year.
  • Online health tools and information to help customers navigate, assess, and learn about their health.

Bupa APAC CEO Nick Stone said Bupa's Connected Care strategy was about bringing to life its bold vision to create truly personalised and seamless healthcare journeys for its customers and the wider community.

"We know one of the biggest pain points for customers going through the healthcare system is how fragmented it is. That's why we're working to connect care physically and digitally to remove barriers and increase affordability and convenience," Mr Stone said.

"We are building on our current network of dental practices, optical and hearing stores to give our members a truly connected health journey.

"In the long-term, our aim by bringing services together physically and digitally is to deliver simple, person-centred care – the 'right care' in the 'right place' at the 'right time'. We want to be a true partner in our customer's healthcare.

"Access to clinicians and services will be supported by technology and underpinned by safe, secure, and intelligent data for a more seamless and less confusing health experience."

Mr Stone said Bupa had started delivering on elements of the strategy and would continue to respond to changing customer preferences, and the need to help alleviate some pressures on Australia's health system.

"As part of our Connected Care vision we will build out and bolster our preventative health programs including nurse and dietitian-led health coaching, mental health and wellbeing programs, and programs to help people avoid or recover from a health condition," he said.

Data from the Australian government has suggested every dollar invested in preventive health saves an estimated $14.30 in healthcare and other costs.

Mr Stone said Bupa's long-term Connected Care approach would also help empower customers to manage their own health information enabled by secure digital platforms.

"Giving customers easier access to their own secure health information recognises they are active participants in their own health journeys. It allows our customers to take proactive steps to get well and stay well," Mr Stone said.

Recent insights from Blua's virtual consultations pilot for regional members found the most common reason for appointments was for acute care, with more than a third using the service for respiratory illness or gastro. Prescriptions were given in almost half of consultations including repeat prescriptions for common medications. Data also shows those aged between 30-49 were most likely to use the service with consultation lengths up to 15 minutes.

Independent research, commissioned by Bupa, found almost half of Australians felt accessing healthcare was complicated, and two in three experienced at least one barrier to accessing a healthcare service over the past year with wait times, limited appointments, and costs the main barriers.

The Bupa Pulse Check survey also found there was an increase in the number of people visiting an allied health practitioner compared to last year, and while people preferred in-person appointments due to the need for physical examinations and the ease of building relationships with practitioners, there remained a strong desire for the ongoing use of telehealth.

Bupa continues to consult with Federal and State governments, medical professionals and industry and key stakeholder groups on its Connected Care strategy to ensure it meets the needs of a growing, ageing population while supporting the Australian health system.

For more info on Blua's digital offering click here and for Bupa health care programs click here.

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