Government releases COVID-19 telehealth item guide

Matt Woodley

12/08/2020 2:08:52 PM

The new resource provides GPs with valuable supporting information on the requirements associated with these temporary items.

GP on the phone
The RACGP helped shape several aspects of the COVID-19 telehealth items guide.

The guide comes in the wake of months of change in the telehealth space, expedited by the coronavirus pandemic, and is designed to provide clarity on Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) billing requirements and criteria.
In a foreword introducing the guide, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and past RACGP President Professor Michael Kidd said the Department of Health’s (DoH) aim is to support the use of the new MBS items by sharing the most up-to-date information with practitioners.
‘These items, and the requirements for their use, have been evolving as the situation itself has changed,’ he said ‘This guide will provide you with the most commonly asked questions from health professionals, and responses from the department.’
The RACGP helped shape several aspects of the new guide by providing feedback on the initial draft, which included the removal of a requirement that doctors document reasons a video consult could not be provided when a phone service is provided as a substitute.
Such a requirement would have created significant additional work for doctors, as a recent RACGP survey showed phone consultations have so far been overwhelmingly more popular with patients than video appointments.
The college was also able to secure clarification regarding the appropriate item to bill when conducting a telehealth and face-to-face consultation on the same day for the same patient, as well as relax billing restrictions related to patients seeing different GPs on the same day for a telehealth and subsequent face-to-face consultation.
However, concerns regarding the ‘complicated and impractical’ process required to gain patient consent to proceed with a bulk-billed telehealth consultation were not addressed, nor were requests for updated item descriptors to help GPs determine which patients are eligible for bulk-billing incentives 10981 and 10982.
While the mass-adoption of remote consultations is a relatively new phenomenon in Australian general practice, the Professional Services Review has already received its first referral in relation to telehealth.
The temporary items will be in place until at least 30 September, after which the arrangements will be reviewed.
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coronavirus COVID-19 MBS telehealth

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Dr Cho Oo Maung   13/08/2020 8:20:02 AM

Telehealth is great. That reduce risk of Airway infection to Doctors, staff, and Public. What's the point of seeing running nose, sore throat, cough patients in GP every season as well as opening Respiratory clinic to tell them, it is just a virus , drink more fluid , have rest , just Panadol and getting RTI from the patients.

Telehealth is great. All airway symptoms patients must stay at home. Make the First appointment to discuss the doctor as Telehealth. Doctor will judge whether this patient need to be seen at clinic in person or not, that will reduce the spread of Infectious respiratory illness including COVID to staff and public. We don't need Respiratory clinic. We only need state/ public sector run COVID swab taking clinics.

May Telehealth MBS item survives forever. Let's use it , but not abuse it.