Australian GPs using the PrimaryClinic practice management software by software provider Global Health can conduct remote video conference consultations with patients showing symptoms for COVID-19, the company recently announced. Through Global Health’s video-conferencing platform, GPs can screen clients and avoid having them present to the clinic thereby reducing the risk of contamination.
HealthEngine, which is one of Australia’s largest consumer healthcare perform with about 3.6 million visits monthly, is also working on a series of measures to combat COVID-19. This includes the launch of a COVID-19 information portal on its website, COVID-19 triage via its website and app (a guided online survey for patients/people experiencing symptoms or who have been at risk of exposure to complete a self-assessment and guidance on next steps for care), a booking form public service announcement and a telehealth infrastructure at no or low cost for all GP providers to serve their patients.
WHY IT MATTERS
GPs in Australia have long been calling for coronavirus-specific telehealth item numbers to be added to assist with managing the sudden surge of cases across the country. To date, telehealth for GPs was generally available only in remote areas, however to make sure GPs providing telehealth services to coronavirus people are being properly reimbursed, the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items needed to be updated with immediate effect.
From 13 March, a new update implemented by the Australian Federal Government will allow doctors, nurses and mental health practitioners to provide telehealth services, such as video conferencing to people isolated at home due to the coronavirus.
THE LARGER TREND
Governments around the world are doubling down on their efforts to manage and contain the spread of COVID-19, and telehealth can be a very useful tool in triaging patients, as well as protecting frontline healthcare staff from potential virus contamination.
In the US, Congress has included a provision that waives some restrictions for Medicare telehealth coverage as part of its new COVID-19 supplemental funding package, HealthCareITNews reported. The $8 billion emergency funding legislation will expand the toolkits of healthcare professionals working to combat the COVID-19 outbreak.
The NHS in the UK has launched a new NHS 111 online tool to help those wanting to get quick advice about the new coronavirus after it saw a surge in the number of queries received about the outbreak, according to a MobiHealthNews report.