Medicare COVID–19 telehealth items now include allied health

Telehealth for allied health services

Published 24 March 2020; last updated 31 March 2020

The Federal Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt, has announced further telehealth measures under Medicare that the government is implementing as part of its national health plan in response to COVID–19.

Stage 1 telehealth measures, introduced on 13th March, included services delivered by mental health allied health professionals.

Stage 4 of the telehealth expansion includes a whole-of-population approach, including telehealth delivery of allied health services. This includes expansion of telehealth items for all patients, with or without COVID–19, to see eligible allied health professionals during the COVID–19 health emergency.

The new measures were announced by the Health Minister and are in place from the 30th March, 2020 until September 30th, 2020 when they will be reviewed. People will be able to access allied health practitioners via telehealth for bulk-billed services under existing Medicare items. For more information read the Minister’s media release from 29th March.

Information about COVID–19 telehealth MBS items is available from MBS Online including a fact sheet about the latest changes.

AHPA welcomes the expansion of telehealth items under Medicare. We recognise that telehealth does not replace hands-on treatment and is not appropriate for the management of all health care problems. However, this initiative will enable many people with complex and chronic disease, who rely on the essential services provided by allied health providers, to receive ongoing care during Australia’s COVID–19 shutdown.

View AHPA’s media release in response to the Minister’s latest announcement on telehealth.

Following the shutdown of ‘non-essential’ services, the Minister also confirmed with AHPA that all allied health businesses nationally can continue working and are encouraged to do so.

Department of Health information for allied health

**Update 26/3: The Department of Health has distributed a letter to allied health professionals outlining the federal government’s response to the current health crisis and providing the latest information for allied health providers.

**Update 27/3: The Department of Health has presented an online update for primary care and allied health providers on the government’s COVID-19 response. Over 10,000 people participated in the session and the Department responded to a number of participant questions. This session was recorded and can now be viewed at  https://publish.viostream.com/app/s-n3tuxsb 

AHPA recommends that all allied health professionals complete the Department of Health’s online infection control training module. Over 250,000 people have already completed the training. Due to the high demand, some people may not have been able to access the module, but we encourage you to keep trying.

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