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Telehealth fees unveiled

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Minister for Health and Ageing


6 June 2011


Patients in rural, regional and outer metropolitan areas will benefit from an increase in telehealth services with greater access to Medicare funded medical specialist video consultations available from 1 July this year.

Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon said that under the Gillard Government’s $620 million telehealth initiative, patients will be able to ‘see’ their specialist close to home without the time and expense of travelling to major cities.

“Improving access to specialist healthcare close to home is a key priority for the Gillard Government and Medicare funded telehealth services will remove distance and cost as a barrier,” Minister Roxon said.

“Telehealth is going to provide huge benefits to patients in rural, regional and outer metropolitan areas but also to health practitioners who, from July 1, will be able to access increased Medicare rebates for telehealth services.

New Medicare items will allow a range of existing consultation services to be provided via video conferencing and additional rebates on top of these items recognise the increased complexity of providing a service to a remote patient. There will be a 50% additional rebate for the specialist service and a 35% additional rebate for the service provided by the practitioner at the patient end.

“We recognise the time, complexity and administration involved in telehealth services so rebates will now also be available for the health professional located with the patient including GPs, nurse practitioners, midwives, practice nurses and Aboriginal health workers,” Minister Roxon said.

“Ensuring that telehealth services are available around the country is critical to delivering quality healthcare to all Australians so generous financial incentives to encourage all health professionals to incorporate telehealth services into their day to day practice including a $6,000 incentive when a health practitioner provides their first consultation will be provided.

“We encourage bulk billing with extra telehealth bulk billing incentives to be paid at a rate of $20 each time a practitioner bulk bills a service in the first year.”

The new Medicare items have been developed through intensive collaboration with key stakeholders including peak medical colleges and associations.

The rollout of telehealth will benefit greatly from the opportunities provided by the National Broadband Network and is a key part of the National Digital Economy Strategy.

For all media inquiries, please contact the Minister's Office on 02 6277 7220