Telehealth extension a win for patient health, equity and health budgets

September 18, 2020

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has welcomed the government decision to extend telehealth services until March 2021, as a win on multiple fronts for a stronger and fairer health system.

RACP President Professor John Wilson AM says telehealth is now widely relied upon by both doctors and patients, and is improving access and equity.

“Telehealth has proven to be a critical tool that will be necessary not just for the pandemic but beyond,” Professor Wilson said.

“The RACP has strongly advocated for specialist telehealth access to be continued, and we are pleased that our constructive discussions with the Government have resulted in this outcome.

“We’re always looking for ways to reduce barriers for people to receive healthcare – and Telehealth has been a gamechanger in this respect. We can expect it to have broad ranging benefits that we haven’t yet seen reach full potential, for patients, practitioners, hospitals and government.

“Telehealth has the potential to permanently improve the system, leading to better outcomes for patients and easing the burden on future budgets as people get the help they need earlier and more efficiently.

“It’s clear that we’ve unlocked a really powerful way of providing flexible healthcare during this pandemic – and it’s something that the community should continue to benefit from once the threat of the virus has passed.”

“Telehealth has been particularly helpful for patients who find it a challenge to attend appointments in person such as those with mobility issues, immune-suppressed patients, those living in rural and remote areas and Indigenous patients who feel more culturally safe attending appointments in their own environment.

“What’s clear from the success of telehealth is that there’s no going back to how things were done in the past,” Professor Wilson said.

The RACP recently delivered a survey of its members to the federal government that outlined the benefits to patients that have been delivered from telehealth as identified by its members.

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