TeleHealth extended until 31 December 2021

Millions of Australians will be able to continue talking to their doctor virtually, with the federal government set to extend financial support for telehealth services until December 31.

It means anyone seeking support from their GP, allied health provider or specialist will be able to do so via the phone or video conference.

This includes mental health and midwife appointments, as well as nurse practitioner check-ups.

Telehealth was set up to virtually connect people in regional areas to medical specialists in the city so they did not have to travel hours for appointments.

But during the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government injected billions of dollars into the system to allow anyone to book a phone consult or video conference appointment.

There was a large uptake, with more than 54 million telehealth services completed between March 13, 2020 and March 31, 2021.

About 13.5 million patients took advantage of the scheme, costing the government $2.8 billion in Medicare benefits.

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Key points:

  • More than 54 million telehealth services were completed between March 13, 2020 and March 31, 2021
  • Health Minister Greg Hunt said the extension is a recognition that telehealth played an important role over the past year
  • With funding due to have ended on June 30, many health specialists had called for the plan to be extended

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has released its updated Industry Restart Guidelines for allied health and primary care services in Victoria.

The guidelines have been updated to reflect current public health advice (effective as of 6pm 26 March 2021).

Telehealth remains the preferred option for care. All businesses must continue to have a COVIDSafe Plan in place, including when operating a business from a residential address.

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