Virtual healthcare, encompassing telehealth, is now being widely adopted by health care professionals and patients alike. Digital health applications have changed the way Australians interact with health professional appointments. But are patients ready and prepared for what this means?
Since Medicare-funded telehealth items were added to the Medical Benefits Scheme in late March this year, more than 10 million telehealth items have been billed in Australia up until mid-May 2020. This demonstrates a sharp increase in adoption and growing interest in digital health from healthcare professionals, the Australian public and health insurers.
Michael Marthick, Founder and Managing Director of health care provider Care Connected, says, “telehealth has been available to rural and remote communities for many years. What we’ve seen since COVID-19 is a wider adoption of these platforms in urban Australia, so much so that telehealth is now part of our new normal.”
Top ten tips on how Australians can get the most out of their telehealth appointment
Prior to your appointment
- Look for a telehealth provider who is accredited to deliver telehealth services.
- Check what benefits are available to you either via Medicare or your private health insurance to ensure you are accessing all benefits possible.
- If you come from a non-english speaking background, seek out bilingual providers or check to see if translators are available.
- Ask your healthcare professional about their data safety and privacy policies to put your mind at ease. Ensure they are collecting information to improve your care not collecting data for the sake of collecting data.
- Check how to access your telehealth appointment prior to the day, and ask for a test run, to ensure you are comfortable with it and it runs smoothly.
- Look for providers that can fit with your schedule and offer flexible appointment times, for example offer out of hours appointments.
On the day of your appointment
- Be ready with any questions you may like to ask during the consultation and note them down.
- Log in to your telehealth appointment a couple of minutes early so you are not rushed. If it’s a video call appointment, ensure there is good lighting and that you are easily seen within the camera.
- Request access for a carer or family member to sit in on the call too.
Enjoy the opportunity to attend medical appointments without leaving the comfort of your home.
Mr Marthick continues, “we applaud the Government for making telehealth more accessible to all Australians and call for funding to continue beyond September for allied health services. As awareness continues and patients become more comfortable with telehealth, we may see a demand for more remote care and an increase in remote monitoring to support chronic disease care. This could result in an expansion into Telehealth 2.0 using remote devices for ‘at home rehabilitation’ or for ‘hospital in the home’ models of care.
“Access to healthcare that delivers individualised programs that keep people out of hospital and engaged in an active life, whether they live in metro, regional or remote Australia are critical now and will continue to be during Australia’s extended social-distancing phase” said Mr Marthick.
Care Connected offer services and programs that are designed to provide many benefits to Australians directly, insurers, healthcare organisations and health professionals. For more information visit www.careconnected.com.au
Digital Health Advocate, Founder and Managing Director, Care Connected
PhD Candidate (USyd), MPH, BSc(ExSci), AEP
Michael has a long history working in health support services and allied health as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist with a special interest and clinical experience in cancer care. He is passionate about the role technology has in the future of accessible healthcare.
 Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly Press Conference 18 May. As reported by 9News https://bit.ly/2U98p7m