As a result of the College’s continuous advocacy on telehealth, the Australian Government has approved a temporary expansion of the existing COVID-19 specialist telehealth items to include attendances for private admitted patients being treated in either a private or public hospital.
The expansion will occur through the listing of new COVID-19 attendance items (telephone and video) on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).
The new items will enable admitted private patients to continue to receive essential Medicare services in circumstances where the admitting specialist medical practitioner’s access to the hospital is impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.
These changes, along with other temporary COVID-19 MBS telehealth items will remain in place until 31 December 2021, with ongoing telehealth arrangements to be considered as part of broader Government consideration of MBS telehealth arrangements.
The following general conditions must be met in order to use the new telehealth inpatient items:
- A private patient has been admitted to hospital; and
- The admitting specialist medical practitioner, at the time the attendance is provided, is:
- located in an area determined by the Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer to be a COVID-19 hotspot; or
- required to isolate because of a State or Territory COVID-19 public health order; or
required to be in quarantine because of a State or Territory COVID-19 public health order.
The below table is a useful quick reference guideline for psychiatrists:
Further information about the new arrangements is available on the Department of Health website: MBS online - COVID-19 Temporary MBS Telehealth Services