- Due to COVID-19, telehealth patients are now eligible to receive Medicare rebates
- The changes to the telehealth scheme are due to be reviewed in September
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit Australia, telehealth was a vital but complicated way for rural patients to access required medical care.
The Karumba Health Clinic’s director of nursing, Hannah Dawes, said for her patients in the lower Gulf region of north west Queensland, the relaxation of requirements to see a doctor via telehealth had been incredibly important.
“We can now do telehealth where they don’t have those three face-to-face visits, and there has been a loosening of restrictions around the Medicare billing.
“We have had patients who have actually had follow-ups that they would have just cancelled.”
Ms Dawes said she did not think it would be in the patient’s best interest if the teleheath provisions reverted to the pre-COVID-19 arrangements.
The changes to telehealth are due to be reviewed in September, and Ms Dawes said she would like to see the Medicare eligibility stay.
New wave practising
Rural Doctors Association of Australia CEO Peta Rutherford said most GP orgainsations were “pushing” for reform around telehealth.
Michael Marthick, the founder and managing director of Care Connected, a virtual allied health clinic, said telehealth was “new wave practising”.
“I think maintaining telehealth rebates from Medicare and private health insurers after September is key,” he said.
“We need wider access to chronic disease management, and really an evolution in teleheath.
“I think if more GPs get on-board with telehealth, and other health professionals including physical therapists, psychologists, a range of mental health service providers, we’re really seeing a shift in how health care can be provided.”