New MBS Telehealth & Telephone items
In these present difficult times we are seeing measures put in place to try to slow the rate of infection with COVID-19 within the Australian community. This will affect medical practices and the daily routines and workload of all medical practitioners, including us consultant physicians.
It is expected there will be increased workload and longer hours as well as the stress of managing patients in a difficult environment. I urge all consultant physicians to take self-protective measures in order to protect themselves, practice and hospital staff and patients.
The Government has just implemented its proposed new set of MBS telehealth and telephone items to assist in treating patients who may not be able to come to your practice. These items are for vulnerable groups such as the elderly, those with chronic conditions and those in Indigenous communities.
These telehealth and telephone items are set out below and provide additional options to consultant physicians (as well as GPs, other specialists and health providers) for managing patients who may have COVID-19, without putting your practice staff and other patients - and yourself - at additional risk.
The national response is being led in Australia by public health physicians and infectious diseases physicians and all Departments of Health, together with the wider Government which is currently focussing on "social isolation" to try to minimise the spread of the virus. Significant decisions have been taken at all levels to cancel or postpone many activities where large gatherings of people would have occurred (e.g. overnight the RACP has cancelled its 2020 Congress).
These measures are likely to also raise concerns in the community about the dangers that may be presented by COVID-19, although for the vast majority of people who may become infected the symptoms will be no more than those of the common cold (which itself is a coronavirus). Nevertheless, for the small percentage of people who have more serious symptoms and require medical treatment and/or hospitalisation, they will be relying on the skills and expertise of all medical and health professionals including consultant physicians.
There will be many challenges facing the medical profession in the coming months due to COVID-19 and the AACP will provide any support we can to our members.
The AACP is pleased to advise that the new telehealth and telephone items for COVID-19 are now available for use. The AACP has been corresponding with the Minister on a range of issues and we will provide further information on these matters in the next e-news.