Changes to specialist telehealth MBS items welcome, must be retained beyond mid-2022
The RACP welcomes the reinstatement of telephone MBS items for specialist telehealth for the next six months, especially under the surging pandemic conditions. The RACP has strongly advocated for the retainment of MBS items for phone consultations. Patients will now be able to safely communicate with their specialists without being exposed to potential infection or forgoing specialist care altogether.
Telephone items are key to ensuring access to specialist care for many Australians during and beyond the pandemic. The College has consistently argued that phone consultations are preferred by many patients or necessitated by patient-specific circumstances such as old age, fragility, intellectual disabilities, deficit in technology skills, low bandwidth, geographical barriers, and inability to access in-person care.
We are especially pleased that telephone items will be available for initial as well as complex consultations, and that telehealth rebates are now available for inpatients to receive a consultation with their specialist. Complex consultations via telephone are vital for specialist physicians who often see patients when they have multiple conditions that requires more complex care.
We will continue to advocate for the retainment of these items beyond mid-2022 in the interest of our patients and members.
For more information on the changes, see Temporary items to 30 June 2022