Have you used telehealth?
About six months ago, if you’d asked this question of the average person, you’d most likely have been answered with a blank stare. But the COVID-19 pandemic has changed that. And the consequent social-distancing restrictions have helped telehealth move to the mainstream.
Telehealth simply means visiting your doctor using the phone (or videoconference) instead of at their clinic. As of 6 March 2020, Medicare covers telehealth visits with:
Doctors can diagnose, treat and manage many different illnesses and problems using telehealth. For example, your GP could use telehealth to manage conditions such as:
A telehealth appointment can also be appropriate with a specialist, or another healthcare provider. However, sometimes a doctor will need special equipment. Or they may need to provide a physical examination. In that case, you will need a face to face appointment.
Until now, the adoption of telehealth in Australia has been fairly slow. This is despite telehealth being vital for our rural and remote communities. And it’s particularly important in supporting health improvements in our Indigenous Communities.
So, what have been the main barriers to using telehealth more broadly? Some of the reasons include:
But now the COVID-19 pandemic has forced telehealth to the mainstream.
The possible benefits of telehealth for both you and your communities are multiple and include things like:
In a survey on telehealth conducted by the Consumers Health Forum of Australia, one respondent remarked:
“I was more relaxed in my consultation. I was in my familiar environment and the specialist and I were both at ease. I didn’t have the stress of getting the two people I care for sorted before the 90-minute drive to the city hospital for this appointment. I saved money on fuel and parking fees. I didn’t have to sit in a full waiting room. I didn’t have to turn down work for that entire day because of the travel time and waiting room time blowouts. The benefits of telehealth are immense.”
Of course, telehealth doesn’t supplant regular health care completely. There will always be reasons to have face to face visits with your GP or other healthcare providers.
You don’t need any official or special equipment for a telehealth appointment. In many instances, your telephone is enough. Although if you have an appointment via videoconference you’ll need access to reliable internet, along with a smartphone, tablet or computer with a camera and microphone.
Things you may need to consider for your telehealth appointment:
Telehealth offers many potential medical and social benefits. Particularly if you need to consult a doctor but don’t need a physical examination.
In the past, doctors have used telehealth to improve health service access for regional and rural communities. But, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has now gained broad acceptance. Even for those in metropolitan areas.
Social-distancing restrictions may be in place for many months to come. Which means telehealth will remain an important additional health service.
InstantScripts commits itself to providing you with quality telehealth in these uncertain times.
To speak with an InstantScripts GP: