Ramsay Health Care Launches Ramsay Connect
Australia’s largest private hospitals operator, Ramsay Health Care has announced that it is well-positioned should there be a spike in coronavirus in Australia. However, the firm warned that growing cases around the globe could pose an adverse impact on its global operations. This is because should the coronavirus continue to spread, it was possible elective surgeries such as knee replacements would have to be delayed as patients would refrain from entering hospitals. Consequently, this will, in turn, hurt volumes.
Additionally, Ramsay is currently in talks with the government about taking in the public overflow of patients due for surgeries. Specifically, this group of patients could be left aside should the spread of the virus intensify. The Victorian government on Wednesday has declared a Tier 2 state of emergency while cautioning for a Tier 3 emergency. States have relayed the message to public hospitals that they ought to consider private hospitals as a back-up to continue executing elective surgeries.
Even as Australia remains as Ramsay’s core earnings driver, the firm also operates across approximately 500 locations in 11 countries. Specifically, with operations scattered across the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Scandinavia, Ramsay is therefore heavily exposed to any increased outbreak of coronavirus in Europe.
More recently, Ramsay has agreed to partner with insurer Australian Unity in entering a joint venture offering home healthcare options. The partnership, also known as Ramsay Connect, was launched on Thursday by Australian Unity’s Remedy Healthcare and Ramsay’s Ramsay Health Plus. Ramsay Connect aims to provide coordinated assistance during and after a patient’s hospitalisation with an initial emphasis on patients who have undergone a knee or joint replacement.
Additionally, the initiative aims to allow Ramsay to seek an additional source of revenue outside of its private hospitals. Likewise, the view was shared by the chief executive of Ramsay’s Australia business, Danny Sims, who asserted that the move would revolutionise the game while expanding its service offering into areas previously untapped.
Meanwhile, member-owned Australian Unity is a large private health insurer, which also operates retirement villages and offers home care services such as home nursing, respite care and meals/grocery shopping. Managing director of the insurer Rohan Mead believes that the new business model would create services that can be offered at a lower cost relative to traditional hospital stays without compromising on quality.
Ramsay Connect will also seek to deliver a variety of other services including out-of-hospital palliative care, mental health and chronic disease management programs. This is the group’s $13 billion latest diversification strategy from operating Australian private hospitals, following its push into community pharmacy three years ago.
Presently, the group has ceased engaging in an acquisition spree of local pharmacies to bring together the 55-odd community pharmacies it currently manages. While Ramsay continues to expect stronger hospital volume growth this year in Australia, it is also faced with structural challenges as affordability remains a key consideration with more people opting to drop private healthcare cover.
By Caroline Wong
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