Australians in some of the most remote parts of the country will soon have greater access to a doctor, with the Morrison Government investing $45.5 million in GP telehealth consultations.
Minister for Health Greg Hunt said, “From 1 November 2019, GPs will be able to conduct regular telehealth consultations with their patients in remote areas, with rebates available through the Medicare Benefits Schedule.”
“This expansion of Medicare rebates for telehealth will help improve the quality and continuity of care for patients in areas classified as Modified Monash Model 6 and 7, which encompasses remote parts of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania.”
The Government will invest $45.5 million over three years from 2019-20 for this initiative, which aims to encourage patients to maintain a strong relationship with their existing GP.
Minister for Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, Mark Coulton said, “This initiative demonstrates the Government’s determination to ensure that Australians who live in remote areas are able to access world-class health services.”
“These changes will be implemented through 12 new telehealth specific items being included on the MBS. Expanding the range of services means that patients will get more access to health care,” Minister Coulton said.
To be eligible for subsidised telehealth consultations, patients are required to:
- Live in a Modified Monash Model 6 or 7 location;
- Have an existing clinical relationship with the GP providing the telehealth consultation (defined as three face-to-face consultations in the past 12 months); and
- Be at least 15 kilometres by road from the GP.
“A range of existing MBS telehealth arrangements are already in place, including extra telehealth support for people in drought-affected areas,” Minister Coulton said.
Minister Coulton said Medicare also supports specialists, consultation physicians and psychiatrists to conduct telehealth consultations with eligible patients in non-metropolitan areas.
“Another telehealth program enables psychologists, GPs, social workers and occupational therapists to provide mental health consultations under the Better Access initiative,” Minister Coulton said.
In the eight years to 30 June 2019, the Liberal National Government has funded more than one million telehealth episodes of care, representing an investment of $155.9 million in the health of Australians living in regional areas.