Important information relating to telehealth for general and other medical practitioners
The Australian Government has announced changes to the available telehealth codes as of 1 July 2021. WorkSafe will maintain alignment with Medicare telehealth services codes for medical practitioners.
For general and other medical practitioners; changes to the MBS telehealth consultation by telephone codes are reflected in the Medical services – Reimbursement rates fee schedule.
What it contains
WorkSafe now have temporary item codes for medical practitioners, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, exercise physiologists, psychologists and accredited mental health social workers, social workers, nurses, podiatrists, dieticians and speech pathologists (health practitioners) to deliver services via telehealth.
Telehealth attendance means audio and visual or audio only conference by the health practioner with the injured worker. Telehealth attendance for examinations will only occur where the health practioner:
- has the capacity to provide the full service through these means safely and in accordance with professional standards
- is satisfied that it is clinically appropriate to provide the service to the person
- maintains a visual and audio link with the person
- is satisfied that the software and hardware used to deliver the service meets the applicable laws for security and privacy
- where a medical examination is conducted by telehealth attendance any report prepared by the health practioner must:
- report that the examination was conducted via telehealth attendance; and
- specify if the telehealth attendance was audio and visual, or audio only
Why is this important?
The continuation of telehealth ensures the needs of injured workers are met with the highest standards. It enables flexibility for continuation of services in response to any future restrictions associated with the pandemic. It also provides a framework for person centered care according to the individual circumstances of each worker.
WorkSafe expects all health professionals providing telehealth services to injured workers as part of the Victorian Workers' Compensation Scheme to integrate the principles of the Clinical Framework for the Delivery of Health Services (Clinical Framework) into their daily practice.
It is expected that telehealth services are provided when clinically appropriate. Where telehealth is utilized for treatment of a worker it should be offered as a hybrid approach with a combination of face to face and telehealth consultations. Where physical examination is required face to face is the preferred method of consultation.
The telehealth services must:
- replace a regular face-to-face consultation session. Communication with a patient outside of a consultation does not constitute a chargeable service
- achieve optimal clinical, functional and vocational outcomes for injured workers
- be provided in accordance with the Clinical Framework and in a timely manner having regard to the best interests of injured workers
- be provided in consultation and collaboration with other medical and health practitioners, community and support services and vocational service providers involved in the management and treatment of the injured worker
Factors considered when assessing an injured worker for telehealth services include:
- the injured worker must be confident and capable to access and successfully use the technology, including the IT platform
- the physical location a worker is accessing telehealth is an effective and safe environment
- health professionals have a plan in place to address and mitigate any potential risk to the injured worker
- the injured worker has provided informed consent to participate in telehealth services
Providers delivering services via telehealth should ensure that the telehealth technology platform they use:
- provides adequate video quality for the service being provided
- is secure enough to ensure normal privacy and confidentiality requirements are met
Telehealth can be utilised using the equivalent telehealth code provided.