Thanks to a new $1.1 billion coronavirus program and changes to Medicare allowing for all telehealth consults to be bulk-billed, Australians have a brand new way of connecting with medical services. From March 13 to September 20 (end date subject to change depending on the progress of COVID-19), all telehealth services can be bulk billed with no additional gap payment. Practices can choose to charge a full fee for telehealth services which are not refundable through Medicare.
What kinds of medical services are available through telehealth?
There are two forms of telehealth commonly practiced; synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous telehealth refers to when a patient directly connects with a doctor or specialist via teleconferencing, video chat or over the phone. Asynchronous telehealth refers to “store and forward”,a practice in which a primary care physician captures images or video of a patient to send to a specialist for further analysis.
In a broad sense, any appointment that doesn’t require direct physical intervention or specialist equipment can be carried out via telehealth. The specifics of what can be offered in a telehealth consult depends on the specialty of the attending doctor.
GPs and primary care doctors can diagnose and treat a number of common ailments via telemedicine, including:
Allergies, Asthma, Bladder Infections, Bronchitis, Cellulitis, Cold & Flu, Diarrhea, Infections, Respiratory Infections, Sinusitis, Sore Throat, Sprains, UTIs and Vomiting.
Optometry and Ophthalmology
While some tests that require specialist equipment are obviously not possible to perform via video conferencing, optometrists and ophthalmologists can still diagnose, test and prescribe treatment for a number of eye issues via telehealth, such as eye infections, eye strain (Computer Vision Syndrome) or triaging patients to alleviate eye health fears or better organise a face to face appointment.
Mental health services are perfectly placed for telehealth appointments. Psychologists, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, music and art therapists and social workers are all capable of providing telehealth care.
Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Physiotherapy and injury rehabilitation exercise can easily be monitored and instructed via teleconferencing. Depending on the severity of the injury and extent to which movement is limited, an initial face-to-face consult may be necessary.
Any allied health specialist who practices CDM (Chronic Disease Management) is eligible for telehealth MBS benefits. Naturopaths, chinese health practitioners, acupuncturists and remedial massage therapists are not eligible for telehealth, but many other specialists can offer their services via telehealth.
Teledermatology has been an established practice for a number of years, with specialists able to diagnose and prescribe treatments for various rashes and skin conditions remotely via photographs or video conference. While some skin cancer and spot checks are possible via telehealth, most spot checks require very detailed inspection that may not be possible via still or video images.
There are no official platforms or technologies that need to be used for telehealth, but as a general rule of thumb, a smartphone, tablet or computer with a camera and microphone will allow for connection to most teleconferencing platforms.
Practices must adhere to strict privacy and online security edicts when carrying out telehealth appointments, and all telehealth consults require the patient’s strict consent.
Book an telehealth appointmentn now on Telehealthclinics.com.au .
MyHealth1st has launched a secure, in-browser, encrypted telehealth service that requires no third party programs or apps to run. When you book a telehealth appointment using the MyHealth1st telehealth service, both you and the doctor will be sent a unique link to join a video conference. This ensures that your appointment is secure and only accessible by you and the doctor.
Book a Telehealth Appointment Now!
The easiest way to find telehealth practitioners and book an appointment is through Telehealthclinics.com.au. The new site is powered by the MyHealth1st booking platform and limits the search to practices that offer telehealth services.
MyHealth1st understands the importance of telehealth in this uncertain time. With social distancing becoming the new normal and potentially lasting for many months to come, telehealth is not just an important new health service, it’s also an important tool for keeping both patients and practitioners safe.