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Telehealth Consultations Soar

CANBERRA: The Federal Government says more than one million telehealth conferences between doctors and patients have been held in Australia since strict coronavirus restrictions were outlined last week.

Now the aim is to get more people treated without having to go into a doctor’s surgery. Telehealth services will receive $669 million from a new $1.1 billion funding package, and $74 million of that will go towards addressing the mental health impact of COVID19.

There are now questions over whether the arrangements, which include changing the Medicare schedules, can be made more permanent.

Concerns have also been expressed over privacy issues, depending on which system GPs use for telehealth consultations.  So far, the Government has only slotted in the telehealth changes for six months, but what happens after that is up in the air.

The move to a permanent telehealth system is likely to be opposed by GPs who charge over the current Medicare rebate.

During the mandated telehealth period, all online or smartphone consultations are being charged under Medicare rebates determined before the system was introduced. 

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