What it is
Virtual care, also known as telehealth, safely connects patients with health professionals to deliver care when and where it is needed.
Healthcare professionals have been using technology to deliver care to patients for decades. Now, with advances in technology, the support for health professionals and benefits for patients and the health system are even greater.
How it works
In NSW, virtual care can be delivered in different ways, including:
- telephone – an audio connection between two or more people
- video conference – video connection of two or more people allowing all participants to speak to each other, see each other and in some cases exchange data simultaneously
- remote monitoring – using technology to collect and send medical data to an app, device or service
- store and forward – where a patient allows clinical information to be collected and sent electronically to another person or site for evaluation or management.
For services that would typically bill Medicare for a face to face consultation, it may be appropriate to bill for healthcare services delivered virtually.
Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) - Note AN.0.68 outlines the billing requirements for all video consultations provided by specialists, consultant physicians and psychiatrists, regardless of whether there is support at the patient-end.
Further information on COVID-19 Medicare benefits and specific item numbers can be found on MBS Online.
Throughout New South Wales, virtual care models are delivered across community, primary and acute care.
They are facilitated by a mix of clinical and non-clinical staff including practice nurses, general practitioners, medical specialists, Aboriginal health workers, and administrative coordinators.
- Strong governance arrangements and service relationships between partners
- Appropriate technology and planning for implementation
- Strong executive sponsorship and strategic focus
- Well-designed training and support for staff
- Collaborative service design
- Established processes and clinical protocols
- Staff engagement and ownership
- Reflective practice and continuous improvement.
Models in operation
- In-home monitoring program for people with chronic conditions
- Geriatric Medicine Outreach Service
- Virtual Allied Health Service
For more information email the ACI virtual care team at ACI-VirtualCare@health.nsw.gov.au.