Telehealth

Telehealth allows you to consult a healthcare provider by phone or a video call. Telehealth was expanded in March 2020 to ensure the safety of patients and healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these services have now been retained permanently.

About telehealth

Telehealth involves you consulting your healthcare provider remotely when they have determined a physical examination isn’t needed, and you can’t see them in person.

Telehealth services can include:

  • diagnosis
  • treatment
  • prevention.

On 1 January 2022, expanded telehealth services became an ongoing part of Medicare.

Why telehealth is important

Telehealth has been transformational to Australia’s universal healthcare program, Medicare. It has played a critical role in ensuring the continuity of care for hundreds of thousands of Australian patients. Telehealth allows you to get the health care you need, where and when you need it.

Often, Australians living in rural and remote areas need to travel long distances to see their healthcare provider. Telehealth improves their health care by improving access to timely services.

Telehealth consultations are not only convenient, they also ensure the safety of others by reducing the spread of illness. This is important in circumstances where you need to self-isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 public health orders.

Read more about telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Using telehealth services

See the Australian Digital Health Agency for information and videos explaining how telehealth works.

A range of healthcare providers can now provide telehealth services to patients. These include:

  • general practitioners (GPs)
  • specialists and consultant physicians
  • allied health providers
  • mental health professionals
  • nurse practitioners.

When using telehealth services, you can have a consultation by phone (mobile or landline phone) or a video call (mobile or computer).

You can consult a medical specialist, allied health professional, nurse, midwife or nurse practitioner via telehealth instead of face-to-face if appropriate.

GP telehealth consultations

To be eligible for GP telehealth services, patients must have had a face-to-face consultation with their GP (or another GP in the same practice) in the 12 months before the telehealth service. There are some limited exceptions.

If your doctor or medical centre doesn’t offer telehealth consultations, you can use healthdirect to find a provider.

Telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic

Telehealth is an essential part of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to adjust our COVID-19 telehealth measures as needed.

Ongoing MBS-funded telehealth services

Ongoing MBS telehealth services are available nationally. If you have a Medicare card, you may be eligible for telehealth services.

Resources

Medicare telehealth services – Consumer information

The Australian Government has worked with experts to design telehealth services that will continue from 1 January 2022. Many of the telehealth services that have benefited patients since March 2020 continue in their current form.

Ongoing telehealth – Strengthening primary care

From 1 January 2022, telehealth services introduced in response to COVID-19 will be ongoing. Eligible patients all around Australia will continue to have access to GP, nursing, midwifery and allied health services via telehealth where the health professional deems it clinically appropriate.

Changes to MBS specialist telehealth from 1 January 2022

From 1 January 2022, patient access to specialist telehealth services will be supported by ongoing MBS arrangements.

Last updated: 
13 April 2022

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