The Federal Government is expanding Medicare-subsidised telehealth services.

New telehealth services can now be bulk-billed, with services including GP services and some consultation services provided by other medical specialists, nurse practitioners, mental health treatment, chronic disease management, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments, services to people with eating disorders, pregnancy support counselling, services to patients in aged care facilities, children with autism, and after-hours consultations.

“Australia’s primary health workers are our frontline in leading the fight against this pandemic,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said this week.

“Services via telehealth will limit unnecessary exposure of patients and health professionals to COVID-19, wherever treatment can be safely delivered by phone or videoconferencing.”

The population-wide telehealth measures are intended to allow people to access essential health services in their home, supporting self-isolation and quarantine policies to reduce risk of exposure and spread of COVID-19.

They should also help vulnerable doctors continue to deliver services to their patients.

The Federal Government has also doubled the bulk billing incentive for GPs both for face-to-face and telehealth services during the course of the COVID-19 response.