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31 March 2020

LATEST NEWS: Telehealth appointments

As more people focus on staying in their homes over the coming weeks, it’s important to understand how access to service providers and medical specialists may change to accommodate these needs.

On Sunday 29 March 2020, the Australian Government announced that it’s expanding Medicare-subsidised telehealth services for all Australians and providing extra incentives to general practitioners and other health practitioners.

To help you make the most of these services, we’re looking at what telehealth is and how it might help you.

Same appointment, just in a different setting.

Telehealth uses smart technology to connect you with your service providers and medical specialists, even when you are in different places. Instead of visiting their clinic, you can set up a phone or video call with your health professional and participate in the appointment from your home.

The Government will also establish an incentive payment to ensure medical practices stay open to provide face-to-face services where they are essential for patients with conditions that can’t be treated through telehealth.

Types of services accessed through telehealth.

The changes to telehealth represent the fourth stage in a series of primary care measures and commenced 8am Monday 30 March.

Services include appointments with your general practitioner and some consultation services including:

  • Appointments with other medical specialists
  • Appointments with nurse practitioners
  • Mental health treatments
  • Chronic disease management
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments
  • Services to people with eating disorders
  • Pregnancy support counselling
  • Services to patients in aged care facilities
  • After hours consultations.

Bulk-billing and Medicare. 

There will also be increased funding to allow people who are currently bulk-billed for their medical appointments to continue receiving these services at no cost.

Further announcements are expected this week to ensure GPs and other practitioners can apply their usual billing practices to telehealth consultations.

For those people that have private health insurance – insurance companies across Australia have agreed to pause / stop any rise in the cost of premiums for the next six months.

Benefits of using telehealth technology.

There are lots of benefits to accessing medical and service provider appointments through telehealth technology.

  • Limits unnecessary exposure of patients and health professionals to COVID-19
  • Takes pressure off hospitals and emergency departments
  • Supports self-isolation and quarantine policies
  • Helps vulnerable doctors continue to deliver services to patients.

Telehealth in a changing environment.

Currently Australia is dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak and all of us need to do our part to help slow the spread of this virus. By staying home, you can help protect yourself as well as your service providers from potential infection of this virus.

By staying connected with your medical and service providers through telehealth services, you’ll still receive many of the same benefits and support, but you’ll also be saving time and helping to relieve some of the pressure currently put on our healthcare system.

What you will need.

The most beneficial form of telehealth is a video call. To make a video call you will need a computer or laptop that has an inbuilt camera or attached webcam. If you have a smartphone you can also use it to set up video calls with your service providers. You may be able to use applications such as Skype, Facetime, Facebook Messenger, Zoom, WhatsApp or Viber.

If you do not have access to a laptop, computer or smartphone you can set up appointments with your service providers over the phone. They will still be able to provide you with expert care and advice.

We can help!

For more information, read the latest telehealth announcement from the Minister for Health.

To get in touch with a member of the Leap in! Crew call us on 1300 05 78 78 or visit our website to chat online.