Updated: Mar 16
Company News | March 16, 2023 at 9:00 AM AEDT
A new joint venture between leading specialty mental health provider Aurora Healthcare and health company Medibank will deliver an innovative integrated mental health model that extends hospital care to incorporate additional support services in home and community settings.
Aimed at providing greater access, choice and flexibility to mental health services, the 50/50 joint venture, known as iMH, will initially invest $31 million into three hospitals delivering a combined 153 new mental health beds and comprehensive out-of-hospital support.
The partnership will draw on Aurora Healthcare’s established mental health expertise and the combined experience of both Aurora Healthcare and Medibank’s Amplar Health business in introducing innovative models of care across Australia.
The model will focus on providing flexible care pathways including a range of out-of-hospital services such as in-home care, telehealth and care coordination. The iMH hospitals will look to offer these services with no additional costs for patients with eligible private health insurance, apart from any excess or co-payment that would normally apply. These services are typically not included under a traditional psychiatric model of care in the private system.
Aurora Healthcare will contribute two hospitals in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory to iMH, with its Hirondelle Private Hospital in Chatswood to be converted into a 45-bed mental health facility, while Deakin Private Hospital in Canberra will feature 52 beds, including the city’s first private mental health beds for young adults.
The joint venture will invest in a new specially designed 56-bed mental health facility to be built in Alexandria, New South Wales.
Joanne Levin will lead iMH as Chief Executive Officer. A senior executive with the Aurora Healthcare business, she brings to the role extensive commercial and clinical acumen, significant experience in hospital operations and clinical governance, and a strong track record in mental health service development.
Aurora Healthcare (Australia) Chief Executive Officer, Julia Strickland-Bellamy, welcomed the appointment and iMH’s focus on service innovation, flexibility and accessibility in order to meet the growing demand for private mental health services.
“The model will address the clear unmet demand in the community. In our network alone, the wait list for outpatient psychiatry has been at around 6 months over the past 2 years. Providing people with treatment options beyond what has historically been solely hospital-centric care will help to support greater access, choice and flexibility,” Ms Strickland-Bellamy said.
“A patient might access treatment at home or in the community following a hospital admission, or alternatively access these services if a hospital admission is not required in the first instance.
“It’s ultimately about the most appropriate treatment pathway for each individual patient, regardless of their private health insurer. All decisions about their suitability for the model will be made by the patient alongside their doctor and the hospital’s clinical team,” she said.
Medibank Group Executive and CEO of Amplar Health Dr Andrew Wilson, who is also a practising psychiatrist, said the model is designed to support a patient’s longer-term recovery while providing them with the choice of optimal care in the home and community setting.
“As the rate of Australians reporting high levels of psychological distress continues to grow, integrating inpatient and out-of-hospital care helps patients access support when and where they need it,” Dr Wilson said.
“It shouldn’t have to be one or the other. Many patients would benefit from the iMH model, which is designed around their individual needs and circumstances under the direction of their treating psychiatrist,” he said.
The joint venture’s acquisition of Deakin Private Hospital and Hirondelle Private hospital have been completed, with the investment in the new greenfield facility in Alexandria to follow. Deakin Private Hospital will open in the coming months while Hirondelle Private Hospital is expected to open to patients later this year. The new facility in Alexandria will be operational after planning and construction.
About Aurora Healthcare
Aurora Healthcare is a dedicated and focused specialty healthcare group that specialises in mental health, rehabilitation, community care, oncology and cardiology. Committed to delivering premium health services and clinical excellence, Aurora Healthcare’s Australian portfolio comprises 16 private hospitals and community services in Australia’s major cities and key regional areas. With 1,000 mental health beds, 500 rehabilitation/medical beds and a range of outpatient and day programs, Aurora Healthcare is one of the largest private providers in Australia’s mental health and rehabilitation sectors.
About Medibank and Amplar Health Medibank Group is a health company working to create Better Health for Better Lives by delivering the best health and wellbeing for Australia. Amplar Health (previously Medibank Health Solutions) is part of Medibank Group. Amplar Health is co-creating health services with government, businesses and not-for-profits. By making health more personal, Amplar Health is committed to the sustainability of Australia’s health system and supporting Medibank’s 2030 Vision to deliver the best health and wellbeing for Australia.