Telehealth set to become permanent part of Medicare, Greg Hunt says

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Good news for aged care and retirement village providers.

The Federal Health Minister (pictured left, with AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid) has announced the temporary item number for telehealth consultations in the Medicare system will be retained post-COVID after 40 million telehealth consultations were recorded.

“There’s not been much good that’s come from COVID,” he said.

“One thing that has come from COVID is the fact that we have skipped a decade and jumped from 2030 to 2020 for the delivery of telehealth for all Australians.”

Many operators relied on the item number to provide services to residents during lockdown restrictions after it was introduced in March.

The Minister also revealed more than $4 million in funding from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) would go towards six new COVID-19 research projects including projects for developing high priority digital health infrastructure.

There is a question mark however over whether all aged care facilities and villages will be equipped to take advantage of the new items.

As we covered here, research by Monash University found only 2% of telehealth consultations were via video – suggesting many patients were receiving medical advice without being ‘seen’.

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