Uptake of telehealth services funded by Medicare in Australia

Wade, Victoria and Soar, Jeffrey and Gray, Len (2014) Uptake of telehealth services funded by Medicare in Australia. Australian Health Review, 38 (5). pp. 528-532. ISSN 0156-5788


Objective. The aim of this study is to identify the extent to which the Medicare item numbers and incentives, introduced in July 2011, have been effective in stimulating telehealth activity in Australia.
Methods. A retrospective descriptive study utilising data on the uptake of telehealth item numbers and associated inperson services, from July 2011 to April 2014, were obtained from Medicare Australia. The main outcome measures were number of telehealth services over time, plus uptake proportionate to in-person services, by jurisdiction, by speciality, and by patient gender.
Results. Specialist consultations delivered by video communication and rebated by Medicare rose to 6000 per month, which is 0.24% of the total number of specialist consultations. The highest proportional uptake was in geriatrics and psychiatry. In 52% per cent of video consultations the patient was supported by an on-site healthcare provider, most commonly a general practitioner. There were substantial jurisdictional differences. A significantly lower percentage of female patients were rebated for item 99, which is primarily used by surgeons.
Conclusions. Medicare rebates and incentives, which are generous by world standards, have resulted in specialist video consultations being provided to underserved areas, although gaps still remain that need new models of care to be developed.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to published version due to publisher copyright policy.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Management and Enterprise
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2015 00:26
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2017 23:57
Uncontrolled Keywords: Australia; medical insurance; Medicare rebate; uptake; telehealth; video consultations; medical specialist appointments
Fields of Research : 10 Technology > 1005 Communications Technologies > 100509 Video Communications
11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111711 Health Information Systems (incl. Surveillance)
11 Medical and Health Sciences > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111717 Primary Health Care
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 92 Health > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920204 Evaluation of Health Outcomes
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1071/AH14090
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/25978

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