Telehealth, the service that allows us to have a phone or video consultation with our health professionals instead of needing to see them in person, has now become a permanent part of the Medicare system.
Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, made the announcement late last year to make Telehealth a permanent part of the Medicare system following the introduction of the service as a temporary measure at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. The move has been well received, with head of the Australian Medical Association, Dr Omar Khorshid, calling it a “silver lining” to the COVID pandemic that will “transform healthcare in this country for many, many years to come.”
More than 40 million Telehealth consultations have now been held throughout Australia, and although it has many advantages, Telehealth is not always the best option. We take a look at when and how to get the best use of your Telehealth appointment.
Telehealth is a convenient, accessible and efficient way for you to check in with your regular GP or specialist – all from the comfort of your home. From a practical perspective, it is a great option for people who are immuno-compromised, have limited transport, or who live in regional areas. Some patients may find they are more comfortable to broach a medical subject they are embarrassed about, or which may feel confrontational to broach face-to-face.
Telehealth is most appropriate for patients who:
For initial consultations with a new GP or specialist, it is best for you to appear in person. Likewise, if you have an ailment which is complex, or requires clear visual identification or treatment, then an in-person consult is necessary.
Telehealth consultations may also be less thorough than a face to face consult, which can be detrimental in some cases. It can be more difficult for your health professional to get a full picture of your health needs, and it can remove the personal interaction which is accompanied by a face to face consultation.
Where appropriate, your GP or health practitioner will have Telehealth services already in place. Speak with the practice you attend to find out whether your situation is suitable for a Telehealth appointment.
*Subject to any waiting periods and annual limits. Check your cover summary to see if these services are included on your extras cover and if any waiting periods or annual limits apply.