Greater access to telehealth consultations will benefit even more patients

18 April 2020
 
 
 

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) commends the extension of Medicare benefits to assist patients to receive telehealth or telephone consultations in a wider range of circumstances.

The latest round of measures, announced yesterday evening, eases certain treatment restrictions and creates 28 additional telehealth and phone service items allowing medical specialists including psychiatrists and other health professionals to provide quality care to even more people in the community.

‘This is particularly good news for patients from all walks of life who will now be able to continue with much needed care with their psychiatrist or who may require access to critical mental health services for the very first time,’ said the RANZCP President, Associate Professor John Allan.

‘It also ensures the continued viability of specialist and allied health services under Medicare, the flow on effect of which is to protect vital public and emergency services from being further stretched during this critical time.  

‘The RANZCP has been working closely with the government to facilitate this much needed and anticipated expansion of services, and we applaud the ongoing roll out of these innovative COVID-19 response measures,’ said Associate Professor Allan.

‘We are particularly pleased to see the inclusion of telehealth group psychotherapy services and consultations.

‘This will allow psychiatrists to support a wider range of people via telehealth such as those with eating disorders, severe depression, serious anxiety disorders and social phobias, borderline personality disorder and victims of family and sexual violence.

‘Some of the most impoverished people in the community use and benefit from group therapy, this will also have very positive flow on effects for some of our most vulnerable patients.

‘We also note the boost these changes give to clinicians to effectively treat, support and care for children and adolescents at a time when their emotional needs are escalating,’ said Associate Professor Allan.

The RANZCP now looks forward to engaging constructively with governments and other health funders to find ways to ensure greater patient and community access to mental health services right across both the public and private sectors.

ENQUIRIES: For more information, or to arrange an interview call Sarah Carr on +61 437 315 911, or email media@ranzcp.org.

For all other expert mental health information, visit Your Health in Mind, the RANZCP’s consumer health information website.