Telehealth services that connected millions of Australians to their doctors and kept people safe at home during the pandemic are set to become a permanent feature of the country’s healthcare system.
The federal government has announced a $ 309 million package for primary health care that includes the ongoing provision of virtual services.
Health Secretary Greg Hunt said telehealth was a “quiet revolution” in the healthcare system and was critical to Australia’s success in curbing the spread of COVID.
“This has changed the way Australians access health care,” said Mr Hunt.
The government quickly backed telemedicine services in less than two weeks to serve as temporary support during the pandemic.
- More than $100 million will be spent to make telehealth services permanent
- More than 16 million Australians have used telehealth throughout the pandemic
- The service has been considered vital to Australia’s success in responding to COVID
The service was established to reduce face-to-face contact during a pandemic, but has since proven invaluable to people with mobility problems, Australians living in rural and rural areas, and people who simply struggled to find time without work to see a doctor .
There is a very important role for face to face [care], but equally that supplementary role for telehealth can give people access when they need it appropriate to their circumstances,” Mr Hunt said.
The government will commit $ 106 million to make the service permanent, with existing arrangements to be maintained.
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners head Karen Price said the announcement of a lifelong telemedicine service was “a wonderful day in the history of general practice.”
“The era-defining episode of COVID has served to highlight just how intertwined health service delivery is with the health of the nation,” Dr Price said.
“Telehealth has been a remarkable and innovative solution which enabled our country to stay as safe as possible.”
Dr. Price said patients are still better off visiting healthcare providers in person if possible.
But she said that beyond COVID, telehealth will help deliver “badly needed” services to regional and rural areas in Australia and is an essential service for people who find it difficult to get to a doctor or need to see a therapist for only a minor issue.
Funding for telemedicine services was to end in January.
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Text messages were sent out today advising the Australian Government has announced telehealth is here to stay by MyClinic Werribee
However, there is a criteria that must be meet.
You have to have had a face-to-face consult in the last 12 months to be enigible.
If you are unsure if you have had a face-to-face consult in the last 12 months please consider booking an appointment with your GP.