COVID-19 and New Telehealth Items
As part of the COVID-19 National Health Plan, the Government has introduced temporary bulk billed MBS telehealth services for primary care to allow doctors, nurses and mental health professionals to deliver services via telehealth, provided those services are bulk billed. This is a temporary six-month measure.
The new MBS items will allow people to access essential health services in their home while they undergo self isolation or quarantine, and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for vulnerable people in the community.
In terms of patients enrolled in the HCH Program, the following should apply:
- Telehealth consultations for acute conditions (e.g. respiratory illness) unrelated to the patient’s chronic disease or shared care plan should be bulk billed using the new telehealth MBS items.
- Telehealth consultations relating to a patient’s existing chronic disease or shared care plan should be covered by the HCH bundled payment and the new telehealth MBS items should not be used.
This is the same as the approach that is taken for face-to-face consultations with HCH patients.
Further information about the new MBS items for telehealth is available on the Department of Health's website.
Comprehensive information regarding the Government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak can be accessed on the
Department of Health's website.
For health professionals’ information, go to Health Care Homes for health professionals.
Health Care Homes enrolment is now closed
Patient enrolment for the Health Care Homes program closed on 30 June 2019. Over 10,000 patients in ten PHN regions across Australia were registered and continue to receive coordinated and innovative patient-centred care for their chronic and complex health conditions. The Health Care Homes program will run until 30 June 2021.
Health Care Homes program extended
In December 2018 the Government announced the extension of the Health Care Homes program for an additional eighteen months to 30 June 2021. The period allowed for patient enrolment has also been extended to 30 June 2019, or until enrolment reaches the program’s new patient cap of 12,000.
This extension will allow the general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services already participating in the program further time to implement new flexible models or care tailored to the needs of their patients. More information on the program extension is provided in the frequently asked questions section of the website.
About Health Care Homes
One in four Australians have at least two chronic health conditions 1. These people need services from different health professionals working in different locations. Often there is a lack of coordination and communication between the different parts of the health system. This can be frustrating for patients, their families and carers. It can also put patient safety at risk and cost the health system more.
A Health Care Home is a general practice or ACCHS that coordinates care for patients with chronic and complex conditions.
What are the benefits for patients?
- My care team — you have a committed care team, led by your usual doctor.
- My shared care plan — with the support of your care team, you will develop a shared care plan. This plan helps you have a greater say in your care; and makes it easier for all the people who look after you, both inside and outside the Health Care Home, to coordinate your care.
- Better access and flexibility — with a care team behind you, you have better access to care. Health Care Homes can also be more responsive and flexible. If you want to talk to someone in your care team, you won’t always need an appointment with your GP. You might call or message the practice team. Or they might call you to see how you’re going.
- Better coordinated care — your care team will do more to coordinate all your care from your usual doctor, specialists and other health professionals.