Telehealth isn’t a trend – it’s here to stay! So, if you don’t already offer your patients a telehealth service, now is a good time to consider establishing one in your health or allied health practice.
Why is telehealth important?
Telehealth is making healthcare more affordable and accessible, while patient expectations have shifted towards the provision of convenient care that is delivered at a time and location that suits them – even more so, in the middle of a pandemic when people may be self-quarantining!
Australia’s professional body for general practitioners, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), has welcomed telehealth as a “fundamental building block of primary healthcare reform” that delivers benefits for GPs and patients alike.
The RACGP classifies a telehealth video consultation as:
- a clinical consultation performed via a video conferencing platform, where the patient and consulting specialist are not in the same physical location
- information transmitted electronically during the consultation from the location of the GP/practice nurse/Aboriginal health worker and patient to another healthcare professional at a second location
- the GP/practice nurse/Aboriginal health worker providing support to the patient, employing clinical skills and judgement to provide healthcare and feedback to both the specialist and the patient.
The benefits of telehealth
The RACGP says telehealth services present an opportunity for existing practices to expand accessibility for their patients and increase flexibility in service delivery.
According to the RACGP, both practitioners and patients will reap the benefits from on-demand telehealth services. These benefits include:
Flexible service delivery – On-demand telehealth services require less time and fewer resources than other types of consultations.
Alternative business model for practices – A mixed model may enhance care delivery.
Efficient routine care – Less time and fewer resources spent on routine care, including fewer routine home visits.
Efficient administrative services – Provide administrative services (eg medical certificates, e-prescriptions) via telehealth services, reducing appointment wait times and resources required for in-person delivery.
Increased access to healthcare – Patients living in rural and remote areas, and those with mobility issues, can avoid travel to access care.
Reduced patient costs – Patients save on the cost of transportation and avoid loss of income due to taking extended time off work to travel to appointments.
You can learn more about the RACGP’s thoughts on telehealth here: