Telehealth: Getting health services in your home

31 March 2020

COORDINARE – South Eastern NSW PHN has welcomed the Commonwealth Government’s announcement of $500 million in new telehealth measures and incentives for general practices to keep patients and GPs safe from COVID-19.

Dianne Kitcher, CEO of the South Eastern NSW PHN, said the package announced recently by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Federal Minister Greg Hunt includes expanding Medicare-subsidised telehealth and telephone services for all Australians and providing extra incentives to GPs and other health practitioners.

“The range of services GPs and other medical specialists can now provide over phone or videoconferencing have grown to include mental health treatment, chronic disease management and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments, as well as services to people with eating disorders, pregnancy support counselling, services to patients in aged care facilities, children with autism, and after-hours consultations,” said Ms Kitcher.

“These changes are a radical change in the way that health care is delivered – it’s about getting health services into a patient’s home which have been proven to improve health outcomes, particularly for chronic condition treatment and for vulnerable groups.

“It means that patients will be able to access high-quality medical care in their home, supporting self-isolation and quarantine policies and reducing the risk of exposure and spread of COVID-19. It will also take pressure off hospitals and emergency departments which is particularly critical at this time,” she added.

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

“It is vital to keep general practices open so they can continue to provide essential services to their communities. These initiatives will support both doctors, their patients and the health system as a whole.

“Patients should check their regular doctor’s website or Facebook page for additional information or discuss the options when they are next in contact with their usual general practice,” said Ms Kitcher.

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