Telehealth video consultations are quickly becoming a standard way to deliver healthcare, both within Australia and globally.
Patients, practitioners and other stakeholders are beginning to realise the wide range of benefits it has to offer. They are also starting to understand telehealth’s importance in Australia’s future healthcare system, where it will play an essential role in improving healthcare access for rural and remote Australians and helping reduce pressure on hospitals and after-hours clinics.
Coviu has been closely examining a range of information sources, including news stories, academic studies, discussions at conferences, government policy changes and conversations with current and potential telehealth patients.
We’ve identified 5 distinct telehealth trends that you should be aware of.
We’re keen to share these insights with you in a series of posts and will start with the first trend today.
1. New Telehealth MBS Items and Reimbursements
Telehealth reimbursement has been a hot topic in government over recent years.
In 2017, Medicare’s “Better Access” Scheme for mental health services was expanded to include telehealth video consultations.
Then, in June 2019, Australia’s health minister Greg Hunt, identified telehealth as a fundamental aspect of our national 10 year plan to overhaul the primary care system. This quickly came to fruition 4 months later, with the introduction of 12 additional telehealth items for rural and remote patients to access GP services.
This year, there have been even more telehealth policy updates, following the devastating bushfires. New item numbers have been released for GPs, medical practitioners, psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists, to provide mental health services to bushfire affected individuals via telehealth.
Given these changes, the increased discussion about telehealth at government levels and the national suicide prevention strategy report that will likely include telehealth recommendations, Coviu is confident 2020 will bring further new MBS telehealth rebates.
In fact, Coviu is actively preparing submissions to the MBS taskforce with further suggested item number changes that will provide more fairness and less complexity for telehealth items. Feel free to reach out if you’d like to get on board.
Finally, we would also not be surprised if private health insurances followed suit. Companies such as Bupa, HCF and Medibank are already experimenting with telehealth services provided by their own clinicians. Further cost savings and fairer access conditions are possible by extending telehealth reembursements to other services traditionally covered by private health insurance, including tele-rehabilitation after surgery.
We are releasing a new trend each day this week, so stay tuned to discover what else is coming in 2020!
To see what telehealth rebates currently exist, click here.
To learn more about Coviu, click here.