Telehealth involves having a consultation with your healthcare provider remotely when you can’t see them in person. You can access telehealth services by phone (either mobile or landline) or a video call (on your computer, tablet or mobile phone).
Telehealth has been used for many years for Australians living in rural and remote areas, to reduce the need to travel long distances to see a healthcare provider. However, telehealth has become very widely used over the past few years because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has allowed Australians to consult with a healthcare professional while keeping themselves and others safe, by reducing the spread of illness, particularly where people have needed to self-isolate or quarantine because of COVID-19 public health orders.
A range of healthcare providers can now provide telehealth services, including:
- General practitioners
- Allied health professionals
- Mental health professionals
- Nurse practitioners
If your healthcare professional has determined that they do not need to see you in person, for example, for a physical examination, then telehealth appointment may be more convenient. By consulting with a health professional remotely, you can still get the same level of clinical care but you:
- can attend the appointment from the comfort of your own home or office
- don’t need to drive to the appointment
- save on travel costs and parking fees
- reduce your time away from work or family
- can choose a healthcare professional to meet your individual needs, without them having to be in your local area
- can access the care you need when you are unwell but cannot see your healthcare professional in person because of the risk of passing on infection and/or isolation requirements.
To be eligible to see your GP for telehealth services, you must have had a face-to-face consultation with the GP, or another GP in the same practice, in the 12 months before the telehealth service.
In many cases, a Medicare rebate is available for telehealth services. Many private health funds will also provide rebates for telehealth services for allied health professionals, including psychologists, dietitians, exercise physiologists, physiotherapists, podiatrists, occupational therapists and speech pathologists. You can check with your health fund to see whether you are covered.
For more information visit: Australian Government: Medicare Telehealth Services