Renae Diggles

April 17, 2020

Accessing Telehealth During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Renae Diggles

April 17, 2020

A Lifeline for Older Australians to Access Health Care Services During the Pandemic

Older Australians have been advised to self-isolate and stay at home as much as possible during the current COVID-19 pandemic. This presents new challenges for people who are mostly over 70 years of age. These challenges include looking after their health and wellbeing. Accessing telehealth is a great option to receive health care services. But many people are unsure about what Telehealth is.

Understanding Telehealth

According to the Australian Government’s Department of Health, Telehealth is the “Use of telecommunication techniques for the purpose of providing telemedicine, medical education, and health education over a distance.”

Essentially this means that you’re able to access healthcare services without having to travel or leave your home. Now that people have to isolate due to the coronavirus, Telehealth has become a necessary pathway to receiving health care services in Australia. It’s as simple as contacting your healthcare provider and asking if they offer Telehealth.

Retirement Now recently spoke with an elderly woman who resides in a regional part of Australia. She needed to have her regular prescriptions renewed, and didn’t want to leave the house due to her age and chronic respiratory condition. With this in mind, she contacted her G.P. and asked if she could arrange a Telehealth consultation. They scheduled a time to do a telephone appointment and arranged for the delivery of her prescriptions to her preferred pharmacy. She was bulk-billed through Medicare for the appointment.

Many people are aware that they can access telehealth services with their General Practitioners, however, there are many other services that you can access. These include Exercise Physiology and Psychology to name a few.  The first step is to contact the healthcare service provider and ask them if they offer Telehealth.

Healthcare providers simply deliver their services via video conferencing or over the phone. Whatever option is most suitable for both parties. It’s possible to receive a tailored program without having to have any physical contact with other people. By having the option to access these services you can stay on track with your healthcare goals and needs.

elderly woman holding telephone to her ear

Is Telehealth For Everyone?

In response to COVID-19 isolation rules, many more G.P.’s are now able to offer Telehealth services, even if you don’t live remotely. But did you know that you may also be able to access allied health services?

Telehealth services are accessible via private health cover and via Medicare for some people. Some private health funds are offering support services through hospital and extras coverage, such as access to Dieticians and Psychologists. If you want to access Telehealth through your private health fund, simply get in touch with your provider and ask if they’re offering these services in your area.

Allied health services that have implemented telehealth typically bulk-bill with a G.P. referral. This referral falls under the Chronic Disease Management Plan (CDMP) or Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) Plan.

Furthermore, if you’re the recipient of government-subsidised aged care support services, accessing telehealth for allied health services could be incorporated into your care plan. This applies to recipients of the National Disability Services Scheme (NDIS). It also applies to My Aged Care and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs recipients. You’ll still need a referral from your GP though. It’s possible that your G.P. will be able to email or mail you the referral.

For further information accessing telehealth, you can find updates to Telehealth rollouts by going to the Department of Health website.

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