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Telehealth

Telehealth

Do you need support for an illness or disorder, but can’t make it to an in-person appointment?

Are you a busy stay-at-home or working parent, and don’t have time to schedule or keep doctor appointments?

Do you live remotely and want to access professional support?

Is telephone or video conferencing more accessible and efficient for you?

Telehealth (or telemedicine) is a fairly recent innovation. Telehealth allows the facilitation of health-related services to patients via live video conferencing. Thanks to modern technology, just about everyone in Australia has a smartphone or tablet capable of video chat. This ease of access to make video calls has revolutionized the health industry, allowing doctors and nurses to interact with patients through a convenient phone call.

Using your smartphone, you can consult with a nurse, a physician or a mental health professional to receive ongoing care when your primary care physician is unavailable, to get a prescription refilled, review test results or medical summaries or to have a remote therapy or counselling appointment.

Telehealth appointments can be very beneficial if getting to a traditional in-person appointment is a hassle for you. If you lack the time or resources to use public transportation, are physically disabled or live in a remote area, telehealth appointments can help by removing the need to leave your home to attend an appointment.  

NEW to Telehealth since COVID-19

In Australia, from 13 March 2020 to 30 September 2020 (inclusive), new temporary MBS telehealth items have been made available to help reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 and provide protection for patients and health care providers.· 

It is a legislative requirement that the new telehealth services, where they are provided by GPs and Other Medical Practitioners (OMP), must be bulk billed for Commonwealth concession cardholders, children under 16 years old and patients who are more vulnerable to COVID-19.
· As of 20 April 2020, specialist and allied health service providers are no longer required to bulk bill these new telehealth items.
· Providers are expected to obtain informed financial consent from patients prior to providing the service; providing details regarding their fees, including any out-of-pocket costs.

What are the changes?
As part of the Australian Government’s response to COVID-19, new temporary MBS telehealth items have been introduced to ensure continued access to essential Medicare rebated consultation services. As of 30 March 2020, these items have become general in nature and have no relation to diagnosing, treating or suspecting COVID-19.

Why are the changes being made?
The new temporary MBS telehealth items will allow people to access essential Medicare-funded health services in their homes and reduce their risk of exposure to COVID-19 within the community.

Who is eligible?
The new temporary MBS telehealth items are available to providers of telehealth services for a wide range of consultations. All Medicare-eligible Australians can now receive these services.

GP and OMP services provided using the MBS telehealth items must be bulk billed for Commonwealth concession cardholders, children under 16 years of age, and patients who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. 

For specialist and allied health services, bulk billing is at the discretion of the provider, so long as informed financial consent is obtained prior to the provision of the service.

Vulnerable means a patient at risk of COVID-19, so a person who:
· is required to self-isolate or self-quarantine in accordance with guidance issued by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee in relation to COVID-19; or
· is at least 70 years old; or
· if the person identifies as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent—is at least 50 years old; or
· is pregnant; or
· is the parent of a child aged under 12 months; or
· is being treated for a chronic health condition; or
· is immune-compromised; or
· meets the current national triage protocol criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection.

The Department of Health website provides additional detail online: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/chronic-conditions/about-chronic-conditions
The services will be available until 30 September 2020. The continuing availability of these items will be reviewed prior to 30 September 2020.

What telehealth options are available?
Videoconference services are the preferred approach for substituting a face-to-face consultation. However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, providers will also be able to offer audio-only services via telephone if video is not available. There are separate items available for the audio-only services.
No specific equipment is required to provide Medicare-compliant telehealth services. Practitioners must ensure that their chosen telecommunications solution meets their clinical requirements and satisfies privacy laws. Information on how to select a web conferencing solution is available on the Australian Cyber Security Centre website

Interested in online support from the comfort of your own space?

Does this sound like you:

  • You don’t have the right type of medical professional nearby
  • You lack the time or resources to get to an in-person medical appointment
  • You want the ease and convenience of a video conference appointment

… then Telehealth services may be just what you need.

Book a time that suits you, here’s no need to get ready, or even leave your bed or couch. If you have social anxiety or phobias that cause you to avoid social interactions, Telehealth makes it easier for you to get therapy in the comfort of your own home.

Contact today to schedule an appointment.

 

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