Medicare-subsidised telehealth sessions will be extended until the end of the year, with plans to make it a permanent part of Australia's health system.
Telehealth was implemented in March 2020 to ensure the primary care sector would continue to function, and that Australians could continue to access essential health services.
Between March 2020 and April 2021, more than 54 million telehealth services were delivered to 13.6 million patients, with $2.9 billion in Medicare benefits paid. More than 83,540 providers have used telehealth services.
Health clinics across the NSW Mid and North Coast were strong adopters of telehealth phone and video appointments.
According to North Coast Primary Health Network (NCPHN) statistics, 85 per cent of 101 GP clinics surveyed said they are now offering either phone or video appointments.
The majority of these telehealth adopters (87 per cent) were focused on phone appointments. The remainder (13 per cent) were using both phone and video appointments.
All clinics were still offering face-to-face appointments - and this was still the main form for 15 per cent. Other clinics said they had moved to a 50-50 telehealth and face-to-face mix.
Federal Member for Cowper, Pat Conaghan said Telehealth has played an important role in supporting the health of all Australians.
"Whilst I will continue to fight for more doctors in our region, over the last 12 months, Telehealth services across the mid-north coast have been life changing for many of us in need of support," he said.
"This is not only due to the impacts of COVID-19, but during our periods of drought, bushfire and most recently, flooding.
"This extension will ensure we can continue to see our GP, renew scripts and seek mental health support from the safety of our own homes.
"Importantly, it also allows those that are vulnerable and cannot get face-to-face help to feel protected and supported during these difficult times."
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