Telehealth shows value of MHR
THE successful rollout of telehealth services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the benefits of the My Health Record (MHR), Doctors on Demand CEO, Kirsty Garrett, believes.
Calling for the Medicare rebates for telehealth services to be retained beyond the current crisis, Garrett said the use of the electronic health record had allowed Doctors on Demand GPs to ensure continuity of care for patients throughout the current emergency.
“For the Federal Government, patients and the healthcare industry to reap the benefits of telehealth, Medicare support needs to be retained as a tangible effort aimed at providing more accessible primary care and reducing the burden on emergency and after hour care services,’’ she said.
“Remote and under-resourced communities will benefit the most from improved long-term access to healthcare.
“With integration via a patient’s MyHealth Record, telehealth applications can collect the full patient history in these communities to improve onsite care and collaboration between health professionals.
“There is also a misconception that somehow telehealth isn’t about doctors providing the best possible care for their patients.
“In fact, telehealth providers are Australian registered GPs and thousands are now using the service every day, to complement their clinic hours and deliver services to regional areas and after-hours, where there isn’t the same access to doctors in bricks and mortar clinics.”
While Garrett called for the extension of telehealth services, she said the current system needed to be reformed with a push for video consults rather than telephone calls.
“The provision of a quality telehealth patient experience is much more than a simple telephone call which unfortunately represents over 90% of the telehealth Medicare claims during the COVID period.
“Virtual face-to-face telehealth is superior to phone, when in-person consults are not readily available.
“In a geographically challenging country such as Australia, where the distances are large and healthcare services are centralised, telehealth is essential, as it is for all communities who can’t gain ready access to a GP practice, including after hours.
“What is important is that it needs to be equitably accessed and governed to ensure appropriate use by providers and optimal experiences for patients.”