Telehealth needs to be more than a temporary service

Telehealth that includes telephone delivery needs to be permanent for all those who need it.   

Dr Richard Kidd wrote to GPs this week expressing frustration about the Australian Government’s announcement 1 July 2021 that gave no guarantee about permanent telehealth.  

Dr Kidd’s letter stated, “We will continue to advocate for a model of telehealth that recognises the hard work GPs provide every day, often unfunded. Under our proposed model, telehealth will complement - but not replace - face-to-face consultations, enhance and enable the ongoing care and management of a patient, and in no way fragment patient care.” 

The AMA has again been assured by the Minister for Health Greg Hunt that telehealth will be permanent and that telephone delivery will be included, however, the AMA is still not supportive of a differentiation in MBS rebates for video and telephone consultations. The time spent in, and content of, a consultation should be remunerated the same regardless of the modality utilised.  

The AMA is in discussions with the Government, emphasising that both short-term (COVID) and permanent arrangements must ensure telehealth remains accessible for those who benefit from it most, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, nursing home residents, rural and remote patients and those with mental illness. 

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