Update on COVID-19 MBS Telehealth Items
Commencing 13 March 2020 and extending until 31 March 2021, temporary MBS telehealth items have been made available to help reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 and provide protection for patients and health care providers.
The temporary MBS telehealth items are available to GPs, medical practitioners, specialists, consultant physicians, nurse practitioners, participating midwives, allied health providers and dental practitioners in the practice of oral and maxillofacial surgery. A service may only be provided by telehealth where it is safe and clinically appropriate to do so.
In terms of patients enrolled in the Health Care Homes (HCH) Program, the following should apply:
- Telehealth consultations for acute conditions unrelated to the patient’s chronic disease or shared care plan should be undertaken using the temporary telehealth MBS items, with bulk billing as appropriate.
- Telehealth consultations relating to a patient’s existing chronic disease or shared care plan should be covered by the HCH bundled payment and the temporary telehealth MBS items should not be used.
This is the same as the approach that is taken for face-to-face consultations with HCH patients.
GP COVID-19 telehealth services are eligible for MBS incentive payments when provided as bulk billed services to Commonwealth concession card holders and children under 16 years of age.
All providers are expected to obtain informed financial consent from patients prior to charging private fees for COVID-19 telehealth services.
The temporary GP bulk billing incentive items for patients who are vulnerable to COVID-19 and the temporary doubling of all Medicare bulk-billing incentive fees ceased as of 1 October 2020.
Comprehensive information regarding the Government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak can be accessed on the Department of Health's website.
For health professionals’ information, go to Health Care Homes for health professionals.
Health Care Homes enrolment is now closed
Patient enrolment for the Health Care Homes program closed on 30 June 2019. Over 10,000 patients in ten PHN regions across Australia were registered and continue to receive coordinated and innovative patient-centred care for their chronic and complex health conditions. The Health Care Homes program will run until 30 June 2021.
Health Care Homes program extended
In December 2018 the Government announced the extension of the Health Care Homes program for an additional eighteen months to 30 June 2021. The period allowed for patient enrolment has also been extended to 30 June 2019, or until enrolment reaches the program’s new patient cap of 12,000.
This extension will allow the general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services already participating in the program further time to implement new flexible models or care tailored to the needs of their patients. More information on the program extension is provided in the frequently asked questions section of the website.
About Health Care Homes
One in four Australians have at least two chronic health conditions 1. These people need services from different health professionals working in different locations. Often there is a lack of coordination and communication between the different parts of the health system. This can be frustrating for patients, their families and carers. It can also put patient safety at risk and cost the health system more.
A Health Care Home is a general practice or ACCHS that coordinates care for patients with chronic and complex conditions.
What are the benefits for patients?
- My care team — you have a committed care team, led by your usual doctor.
- My shared care plan — with the support of your care team, you will develop a shared care plan. This plan helps you have a greater say in your care; and makes it easier for all the people who look after you, both inside and outside the Health Care Home, to coordinate your care.
- Better access and flexibility — with a care team behind you, you have better access to care. Health Care Homes can also be more responsive and flexible. If you want to talk to someone in your care team, you won’t always need an appointment with your GP. You might call or message the practice team. Or they might call you to see how you’re going.
- Better coordinated care — your care team will do more to coordinate all your care from your usual doctor, specialists and other health professionals.