16 March 2020
The Australian GP Alliance (AGPA) congratulates the Government on its decision to introduce Telehealth consultations for Australians who are classified as “at risk of COVID19”.
Supporting all high risk groups to reduce their exposure to COVID-19 by reducing time in waiting rooms, and public areas is welcomed.
AGPA notes that the ability to consult via Telehealth is limited to a Doctor who has held a consultation with the person in the last 12 months. This is too restrictive and unhelpful.
If significant numbers of Doctors are unable to attend their practices because of COVID-19 self-isolation, or for other reasons, then the benefit of this innovation will be eroded.
Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, AGPA Director, stated: “We urge the Government to extend the Telehealth rules to allow any Doctor from the same practice to carry out the Telehealth consultation with an “at risk patient”.
AGPA also considers it is essential that health workers are protected from exposure to COVID-19.
To ensure that the primary health care system keeps running for all health care requirements, GPs need to be able to consult with all patients remotely.
“We urgently need to extend Telehealth consultations to all people in Australia if we are to keep GPs safe and reduce the spread of Coronavirus.
All clinically necessary Telehealth consultations, including those billed privately, should be eligible for an MBS rebate.
To further protect GPs, Pharmacists, all primary health care workers and patients an effective E-prescription system should be fast-tracked” Dr Haikerwal said.
The AGPA urges all General Practices to develop Telehealth capability as matter of urgency.