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Telehealth consultations available for vulnerable patients

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For eligible or at-risk patients the government has introduced Telehealth consultations. Photo Photo joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam/15th Medical Group.

The impact of COVID-19 is being felt around the world and in response most medical centres across the Northern Rivers are offering Telehealth consultations for vulnerable patients.

For eligible or at-risk patients the government has introduced multiple changes to the Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) including access to healthcare in general practice through Telehealth. That is your doctor can give you a consultation over the phone to help those vulnerable to COVID-19 or under legislated isolation.

Bulk billed

People can now access bulk billed Telehealth consultations from a GP for their healthcare. All Telehealth consultations are bulk billed if they meet the criteria below:

(a) has been diagnosed with COVID-19 but who is not a patient of a hospital; or

(b) has been advised to isolate themselves in quarantine home isolation (2 weeks overseas travel); or

(c) is considered more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus being:

  • at least 70 years old; or
  • at least 50 years old and is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent; or
  • pregnant; or
  • a parent of a child under 12 months; or
  • already under treatment for chronic health conditions, or
  • is immunocompromised.

(d) the person meets the current criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection.

There may still be a need to visit the practice for further follow up as not everything can be examined/dealt with over the phone.

Paid Telehealth

For those patients who don’t meet the bulk billing criteria some medical clinics may provide paid Telehealth services. Currently these services are at the doctors discretion and are on a full fee basis with no rebate available.

Strict criteria

Each medical centre is following strict criteria around who they are able to provide Telehealth services to so that those most in need are able to access the services efficiently and effectively. These are being assessed on a case by case basis.

Current clinics providing bulk billing Telehealth include:

The Mullumbimby Comprehensive Health Centre: 6684 1511

Meadows Medical Centre: 6684 2300

North Coast Medical Centre Byron Bay: 6685 8666

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