May 1, 2020

Telehealth platform tested in India trialled in Indigenous communities in Australia

A telehealth service to reach underserved communities in Rajasthan, India © Smile Foundation

Distance to health professionals including general practitioners and specialists is one of the biggest barriers to health equality for Indigenous Australians. Telehealth services have the potential to lift this barrier and help to close the gap in Indigenous health status.

We are excited to see an innovative telehealth service tested in a BPP partnership in India being trialled in three Indigenous community controlled health clinics in Australia.

While COVID-19 presents businesses and organisations worldwide with severe hardships, we also see interesting examples of rapid innovation in areas such as telehealth to help meet challenges faced by communities.

In this instance, BPP business partner Karma Healthcare is accelerating its telehealth platform to improve access to primary health care services in both Rajasthan, India and Indigenous communities in Australia.

The BPP partnership

Karma Primary Healthcare’s telehealth and patient management platform was used in a partnership with Smile Foundation and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) with the aim to deliver high quality and affordable healthcare to underserved communities in Rajasthan, India.

The cross-sector partnership brought Karma Healthcare’s existing technology platform together with the Smile Foundation’s experience in community engagement to enable them to expand to more remote poor communities. Through its community education campaigns, the Smile Foundation is raising awareness of the services available at six new clinics.

DFAT is providing critical co-investment and technical support to the partnership. Improving health and gender equality outcomes is an Australian Government priority in India. More on the partnership can be found here.


The Smile Foundation outreach clinic ran to attract patients to the service in Rajastan in 2019 ©  Smile Foundation

New opportunity in Australia

Distance to health professionals including general practitioners and specialists is a significant barrier to health equality for Indigenous Australians. Telehealth services have the potential to help to narrow the gap in Indigenous health status.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted changes in Australian legislation allowing telehealth services to be covered by Medicare. This has opened the opportunity to trial telehealth platforms.

An Australian social enterprise set up by Dr Larry Yee is bringing this new technology to Australia. Dr Yee contacted Karma Healthcare to bring the telehealth platform to Indigenous controlled health clinics in Australia.

The first stage of the trial is currently underway in three Indigenous community controlled primary health services on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales. The partners are modifying and improving the platform for the Australian primary health service setting.

The planned second stage will bring the patient management platform, on a cloud based patient management system with in-built telehealth capabilities to the services, to primary health services in the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) network. There are currently about 300 of such primary health services in Australia, the majority of which are in rural remote areas.

This has the potential to significantly improve community access to primary health service providers such as GPs, in Indigenous community-controlled health clinics.

The potential of cross-sector partnerships

We are excited about the opportunity for Karma Healthcare to bring its experience in India to benefit Australia’s Indigenous communities.  This is a great example of the power of cross-sector partnerships to prove the viability of concepts with both social and commercial outcomes that can be scaled up through private sector investment. As the Australian trial progresses, we will provide updates on what is achieved and learned.

Read more about the partnership that lead to the Australian trial.

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