GPs working in country areas are more likely to suffer from burnout than other community members, according to a recent webinar.
Speaking on a recent Regional Australia Institute webinar looking at the ability of telehealth to improve access to healthcare in rural Australia, Spinifex Health Service medical director Jill Benson, Adelaide, said being the sole "first port of call" in a rural area could take a toll.
"We know that doctors are often healthier than the rest of the community in all sorts of ways, but we do suffer more from burnout, and struggle to access care for ourselves," she said.
"If someone is the only GP in their town, particularly if they're in a really remote area and have packed schedules, how do they access healthcare?"
Through a not-for-profit, independent and profession-controlled service called 'Doctors' Health SA', telehealth services are being made available for rural and remote doctors through SA and the NT, but Dr Benson said service provision was a challenge.
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"The service (which began in 2012) was funded by a few grants, and when telehealth came in we thought we could do this without relying on those grants, but recent changes to Medicare have made that more difficult again," she said.
"For example, most of these people I don't see face to face, and am not able to charge Medicare for people I haven't seen face to face at least once."
Dr Benson said insufficient bandwidths for video consults, and long and complex consultation requirements unsupported by Medicare, were further roadblocks to the service.
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