Telehealth services gain extra $114m funding

Teleheath funding extended until end of 2021

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KEY CHANGE: Naracoorte-based GP Jeff Taylor says Telehealth has played a major role in healthcare across the past 16 months.

KEY CHANGE: Naracoorte-based GP Jeff Taylor says Telehealth has played a major role in healthcare across the past 16 months.

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TELEHEALTH services will be extended until the end of the year, with the Australian government investing another $114 million into the program as an early announcement from its 2021-22 Budget.

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TELEHEALTH services will be extended until the end of the year, with the Australian government investing another $114 million into the program as an early announcement from its 2021-22 Budget.

Telehealth items were rapidly implemented in March 2020 to ensure the primary care sector could continue to function and that Australians could continue to access important health services.

Member for Barker Tony Pasin welcomed the government's commitment to Australian patients.

"Over the last 12 months, Telehealth services have been life changing for many in need of support," he said.

"The extension will ensure that Australians can continue to see their GP, renew scripts and seek mental health support from the safety of their own home.

"This allows vulnerable Australians to feel protected and supported during these unprecedented times."

From March 13, 2020 to April 21, 2021, more than 54m COVID-19 MBS telehealth services have been delivered to 13.6m patients, with $2.9 billion in Medicare benefits paid.

More than 83,540 providers have used telehealth services.

The extension of Telehealth includes services for general practitioners, medical practitioners, specialists, consultant physicians, nurse practitioners, participating midwives, allied health providers and dental practitioners.

Kingcraig Medical Centre's Jeff Taylor, Naracoorte, said in the past 16 months he had experienced radical transformation in the delivery of medical care with the use of the item numbers for Telehealth.

"Teleheath has revolutionised patient care," he said.

"The federal government was able to enact this in a very short period of time, as previously elderly patients would have to come out to the medial clinic and be seen by a doctor."

Health and Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt said Telehealth had played an important role in supporting Australians through the pandemic.

"We recognise that Telehealth continues to play an important role in supporting Australians through the pandemic," he said.

"Which is why as part of the 2021-22 Budget, we are extending Telehealth services to December 31, 2021.

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"It is critical that Australians continue to look after their health and stay engaged with your primary care providers."

The government continues to work with peak bodies to co-design permanent post pandemic Telehealth as part of broader primary care reforms to modernise Medicare and provide flexibility of access to primary and allied healthcare services.

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