Surviving Telehealth’s Impending Tectonic Structural Shift

Tom Skotnicki- Medical Republic 2 April

GENERAL PRACTICES ARE FRANTIC DEALING WITH THE MASSIVE CHANGES OF THE PAST MONTH. BUT AS A CONSUMER, I URGE THEM TO NOT LOSE THEIR FOCUS ON PATIENTS.

Most of us are disoriented by the rapid changes at a time when so many are living in isolation and often dread.  Unless patient relationships are adroitly managed, the changes could prove to be an existential threat. And I suspect those in greatest danger will be those that fail to focus on the patient experience.

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AGPA urges focus on the viability of General Practices.

The AGPA welcomes the decision of the Australian Government to extend MBS (Medical Benefits Schedule) Telehealth item numbers to cover all members of the community and all GPs regardless of the circumstances. This will help to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission and support the maintenance of necessary patient care.

AGPA also applauds the recognition of General Practice and primary health care in leading the fight against the Pandemic.

However, AGPA urges the removal of requirements for the bulk billing only of Telehealth items as quickly as possible.

Many General Practices in Australia are structured in a way that private billing of patients is essential for their financial viability.

The viability of General Practices has come under significant strain in recent weeks as workloads have increased due to dealing with COVID-19 enquiries and changed work practices, while consultations have decreased as patients avoid the perceived risk of infection in waiting rooms.

If General Practices are to successfully maintain primary health care during the Pandemic their viability needs to be secured. Government must not interfere with the relationship between patients and Doctors and should allow Practices to decide how to manage their businesses and organise their billing structures

Media Release

AGPA Calls for Extension of Telehealth

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.

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