Having a Regular GP is Good For Your (Tele)health

The Australian Government has recently announced changes to GP video and phone appointments. From Monday 20 July, patients need to have an ‘existing and continuous’ relationship with a general practice or Aboriginal Medical Service to be eligible for telehealth services.

As part of the Australian Government’s response to COVID-19, new temporary telehealth items were introduced to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) to ensure continued access to essential health services. Since 30 March, patients have been able to access GP telehealth services for appointments that were general in nature and were not limited to the diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19.

Healthy North Coast, the local organisation delivering the Australian Government’s PHN program on the North Coast, is optimistic about the longer-term availability of video and phone consultations.

Healthy North Coast’s Chief Executive Officer Julie Sturgess says that our region has seen a positive adoption of telehealth. This has been a key element in maintaining continuity of care during times of physical distancing.

“Local clinicians and patients alike have been enthusiastic about the availability of appointments by video or phone – we are working with our local medical community as well as the government to explore what a longer-term model of care looks like that includes ongoing telehealth options,” says Ms Sturgess.

“This latest change to the current temporary telehealth services is yet another benefit to having a regular GP or general practice that knows your medical history.

“If you’re an existing patient, you can still take advantage of video and phone appointments, so make sure you talk to your local GP.

“Now more than ever we need to remain vigilant about COVID-19. If you’re experiencing even mild symptoms, make sure you call your GP to find out about testing options.”

MBS-rebated telehealth services from your regular GP are currently available until 30 September 2020.

Patients under 12 months and those experiencing homelessness are exempt from these changes and will be able to continue to access telehealth services from any provider without having to be an existing patient.

The Hon Greg Hunt MP Minister for Health’s recent announcement ‘Continuous care with telehealth stage seven’ is available here.

Contact for more Information

Samara Finlayson

Phone: 0418 615 929

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