Video Consultations: Information for Referring GPs, Practice Nurses & Aboriginal Health Workers
From 1st July 2011, Medicare announced funding for video consultations for eligible patients. Payments are available for specialists, and for GPs, Practice Nurses and Aboriginal Health Workers who provide patient-end support during a consultation. If you need further information on this you can visit www.mbsonline.gov.au/telehealth and/or www.racgp.org.au/telehealth.
Both you and the specialist must be satisfied that it is clinically appropriate to provide a video consultation to the patient. Advice from you in the referral will assist the specialist in this decision.
The MBS telehealth attendance items are not payable for services to an admitted hospital patient. Benefits are not payable for telephone or email consultations. There must be a visual and audio link between the patient and the specialist in order to bill these items.
The referral procedure for a video consultation is the same as that for conventional face to face consultations. No additional documentation is required.
What system do we use for Telehealth Consultations?
We use a software solution called Microsoft Lync Online which is part of the Microsoft Office 365 suite. Lync Online is a cloud based product that enables secure standards based connections, and most importantly, is interoperable with other systems due to a freely available download called Lync Attendee. Microsoft Lync 2010 Attendee is a conferencing client that allows users without Microsoft Lync 2010 installed, to participate in online meetings.
Security and interoperability were two of the main determining factors for us in deciding which product to adopt, along with cost. We explored several solutions before deciding to trial Lync Online and have subsequently installed it on each of our consulting room PCs. We use USB Microsoft LifeCam web cameras and have relatively new PCs, which have been more than adequate and generate appropriate quality consultations.
More information on Lync Online and Lync Attendee can be found at
What does Jean Hailes do?
On receipt of your referral for a Telehealth consultation our reception staff will confirm eligibility and then send to you and the patient a booking confirmation letter. This letter outlines all of the details required for the appointment and the process of 'connecting' via video conference. We will also contact the patient and confirm arrangements for pre-billing.
Prior to the appointment, it is recommended that we trial the communication method and our reception staff will contact you to discuss this. This test can be conducted with a member of your practice staff if you are unavailable, but is important to ensure there are no problems with connectivity on the day of the appointment.
For any further details regarding a Telehealth Consultation with the Jean Hailes Medical Centre please contact the clinic on (03) 9562 7555.
For additional resources to help Health Professionals get started with Telehealth, visit: http://www.racgp.org.au/telehealth/gettingstarted
- The RACGP Implementation Guidelines for Video Consultations in General Practice 2011
- Standards for General Practices offering Video Consultations – RACGP, Oct 2011
- Medical Board of Australia – Consultation on draft guidelines for technology based patient consultations – July 2011
- Quality Practice Guidelines for Telepsychiatry
- WA Department of Health – Principles for Video Conferencing
- RACGP Fact Sheet – Video Consultations Etiquette
- Medicare – Telehealth Frequently Asked Questions
- Medicare Australia website - Telehealth Website
- Skype Security Analysis & Privacy Statement
- On-Line and Other Broadband Connected Medical Consultations 2006 - AMA Position Statement
Content updated December 2013