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Update to MBS now includes COVID-19 telehealth changes

From 20 July, telehealth GP providers will be required to have an existing and continuous relationship with a patient in order to provide telehealth services. Medicare has now updated its telehealth factsheets to reflect the change.

Free healthdirect Video Call telehealth service for GPs now available

To support the secure delivery of video-based telehealth, the Australian Government Department of Health is fully funding access to healthdirect Video Call for General Practitioners (GPs) in Australia until the end of March 2021 (in line with the temporary MBS telehealth items). This is separate to the current trial that is in place until June 2021.

Registrations for a healthdirect Video Call license are open via the online registration form.

Only one person from your practice should register – this will usually be the practice manager, but could be a GP or other administrative person.

Once the registration for your practice is processed, you will receive an email that provides access to your account and an easy-to-follow starter guide.

If you would like to familiarise yourself with the healthdirect Video Call environment, watch this video to find out how easy it is to use, or browse the Video Call Resource Centre.

healthdirect Video Call mirrors a physical visit to a GP, making it easy for patients, clinicians, and administrators. healthdirect Video Call safeguards privacy by leaving no digital footprint. Other video call platforms (such as FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook) store a recording of the call in a server which may put GPs at risk of breaching privacy legislation. Find out more about healthdirect Video Call privacy.

Also, see more about how healthdirect Video Call is different from traditional video conferencing platforms.

Extension of healthdirect Video Call Service Pilot Program to 30 June 2021

The eligibility for access to the Video Call Service Pilot remains consistent with the current pilot. The program provides Video Call licenses free of charge for use by non-GP type primary care services classed as mental health, aged care, maternity, Indigenous health, and allied health services, which includes:

  • paediatrics and child health
  • palliative medicine
  • psychiatry
  • chiropractors
  • diabetes educators
  • exercise physiologists
  • mental health workers
  • midwives
  • nurses
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners and health workers
  • nurse practitioners
  • clinical psychologist
  • psychologist
  • occupational therapist
  • social worker
  • speech pathologist
  • physiotherapy.

The Australian Department of Health is currently reviewing the eligibility criteria for this program and if there are any changes to the program eligibility, healthdirect will communicate these changes to PHNs.

Your organisation can register for healthdirect Video Call (free till 30 June 2021) by emailing or you can complete the online registration form.

Video Call does not require your patients to sign up. They simply enter the virtual waiting area and the consultation by providing their first and last name and their phone number so you can easily confirm it is the correct patient. Patients can use a computer, a tablet, or their phone to participate in a Video Call.

With Video Call both clinicians and patients require only a computer, tablet, or smartphone and an internet connection.

You can access pre-recorded webinars, starter guide, and configuration information here.

Free NBN offer for telehealth providers

As an essential service, telehealth providers are eligible for complementary upgrade offers from the NBN. 

Telehealth providers on 12/1Mbps can be upgraded to 25/5Mbps (wholesale speed tiers) and those on plans based on the 25/5Mbps to 50/20Mbps, or Fixed Wireless Plus (wholesale speed tiers), where available. This offer is available for six months, ending November 2020. 

Telehealth providers can also receive an enhanced fault rectification service that ensures faults are fixed within a specified timeframe. In addition, this comes with prioritised connections and fault resolutions case management through the NBN Co’s Business Operations Centre. 

These offers are available for qualified telehealth service providers in registered business premises, providing one or more of the below services by voice, and or internet, via the NBN Network: 

  • GP services 
  • medical specialist services
  • nurse practitioner services 
  • nental health treatment
  • chronic disease management 
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments 
  • treatment of eating disorders
  • pregnancy support counselling
  • treatment of patients in aged care facilities
  • disability services. 

For anyone interested in this offer, the NBN has a team of community engagement specialists around the country.

Read the NBN flyer for more information, and how to access the offer. 

14 October 2020
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