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In Practice: telehealth and billing updates


Morgan Liotta


23/12/2021 11:30:50 AM

The new year will bring a number of changes to telehealth and MBS billing for GPs to be aware of.

Flipping block 2021 calendar to 2022
As the year ticks over to 2022, GPs should be aware of a number of changes to Medicare billing.

The final In Practice round up for 2021 also includes the mid-year Federal Budget updates relevant to general practice, upcoming changes to rural and remote bulk-billing incentives, and a social media webinar.
 
Telehealth changes for the new year
From 1 January 2022, patient access to telehealth services will be supported by ongoing MBS arrangements.
 
A number of changes to MBS telehealth items will be introduced in the new year, including:
 

  • a new Level C telephone consultation item for patients in Modified Monash Model (MMM) areas 6–7
  • removal of the current Level C telephone items for COVID-19 hotspots
  • extension of MBS items for nicotine and smoking cessation services to 31 December 2023, and sexual and reproductive health services and non-directive pregnancy support counselling to 30 June 2023
  • inclusion of telehealth items in the calculation of Standardised Whole Patient Equivalent (SWPE) calculations, which determine the value of PIP and WIP payments
  • updated Medicare compliance rules to include telehealth services in the prescribed pattern of practice (the 80/20 rule), with a new ‘30/20’ rule for telephone services
  • removal of superseded pre-COVID telehealth and associated items to avoid different MBS items for the same service.
 
Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook
There are a number of key measures relevant to general practice in the 2021−22 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) released on 16 December:
 
  • $106 million over four years for a permanent telehealth scheme
  • $45.1 million over four years to support doctors in rural and remote Australia, including $19.9 million to waive HELP debts
  • $58.8 million to continue providing additional mental health support under the MBS Better Access initiative until 31 December 2022
  • $2.1 million over two years to develop options for a wound consumables scheme
  • $277.8 million over two years to continue the health response to COVID-19
  • $200.9 million over two years to support the primary care system through the COVID-19 pandemic − this includes $121.8 million to extend the operational timeframe of GP-led respiratory clinics to 30 June 2022, and $22.3 million for pulse oximeters and PHNs to assist in distributing these devices and PPE from the National Medical Stockpile
 
Changes to rural bulk-billing incentives
MBS bulk-billing incentives for GPs in rural and remote areas will be increased from 1 January 2022.
 
New items will be created for doctors in:
 
  • MMM areas 3–4 (75855, 64992, 75861), valued at 160% of the fee for the relevant metropolitan area item/s
  • MMM area 5 (75856, 64993, 75862), valued at 170% of the fee for the relevant metropolitan area item/s
  • MMM area 6 (75857, 64994, 75863), valued at 180% of the fee for the relevant metropolitan area item/s
  • MMM area 7 (75858, 64995, 75864), valued at 190% of the fee for the relevant metropolitan area item/s.
 
Existing rural bulk-billing incentive items (10991, 64991, 74991) will remain in place for doctors in MMM area 2. The fees for these items will remain at 150% of the fee for the relevant metropolitan area item.
 
Emerging social media strategies
Webinar: Wednesday 5 January 2022, 7.30 pm (AEDT)
 
In this free webinar, GPs can learn more about:
 
  • the three most effective social media strategies to successfully attract new patients in 2022
  • the role of social media in relationship marketing
  • how to use social media to establish healthcare leadership within the community
  • systems to help GPs and practice staff plan and implement social media strategies as a team to reduce burden from practice owners.
 
The webinar features real-life examples for GPs to draw inspiration from, with a live Q&A session which will also be recorded.
 
Register online.
 
First Practice Owners Masterclass − February 2022
General practice owners can now register for the first in the RACGP’s masterclasses in the 2022 series, in Brisbane on 19 February.
 
Each Practice Owners Masterclass is a one-day interactive workshop built around an existing clinic case study of two GP owners, with the aim to walk through the development of a successful business and strategic plan.
 
Participants will learn more about:
 
  • developing a business and strategic plan
  • accounting and financials
  • getting the best out of practice staff
  • patients and services
  • doctor payments.
 
The educational workshop is a CPD Accredited Activity eligible for 40 CPD points.
 
Register online.
 
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Federal Budget In Practice MBS billing rural and remote telehealth


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