What is telehealth?
Telehealth is healthcare services provided via telecommunication, allowing for long-distance consultation on medical cases that don’t require physical intervention. In short, telehealth is an appointment with a healthcare provider that doesn’t require the two of you to be in the same room.
Who is eligible for telehealth?
Previously Australian telehealth services were mostly limited to remote communities and those not within the range of traditional health services, but with the advent of social distancing and trying to stop the spread of COVID-19, telehealth options have been made more available nationwide to give patients easy access to medical professionals and to safeguard healthcare professionals from potential infection.
What are the benefits of telehealth?
There are a number of benefits to telehealth including:
- Convenience - you can see a doctor from the comfort of your own home. Why commute for hours when you can take 15 minutes out of your day for an appointment.
- Social Distancing - During the COVID-19 pandemic, limiting the number of trips you have to take is advised. Being able to see your doctor remotely not only reduces your risk of contracting COVID-19 but the doctor’s risk as well.
- No Waiting Rooms - There’s no need to sit in a real waiting room for an appointment with telehealth. The MyHealth1st telehealth service has a virtual waiting room in which you can wait, but the session doesn’t go active until both sides use their secure link so you can go about your work while you wait for the doctor.
What kind of services are available through telehealth?
I n a broad sense, any appointment that doesn’t require direct physical intervention or specialist equipment can be carried out via telehealth. The specifics of what can be offered in a telehealth consult depends on the specialty of the attending doctor
Is telehealth effective?
A great number of typical doctor visits require no physical contact - renewing prescriptions, getting sick notes, pathology followups and the like can be handled online with no problems, and many common illnesses or injuries can be diagnosed via a remote consult.
Do I have to pay for a telehealth consultation?
Whether or not you will have to pay for a telehealth consultation depends on the individual practice. Due to the COVID-19 healthcare bill from the government, all applicable telehealth consults can be bulk-billed. Practices may choose to charge for a consult and some services, such as Dental are not covered under Medicare.
Is there a directory listing of telehealth practitioners?
Yes. Telehealthclinics.com.au is Australia’s leading telehealth portal. Here you can search for telehealth enabled healthcare providers.
How can I search for and book a telehealth appointment?
You can search for telehealth appointments and book them online through myhealth1st.com.au or telehealthclinics.com.au. If you are looking for a detailed rundown of how the process works, you can find a written tutorial and explainer video showing how the process works in the MyHealth1st Health Hub.
How should I prepare for a telehealth appointment?
You should prepare for a telehealth consult in much the same way you would for a face-to-face appointment. Make sure you have any paperwork, reporting or medical diaries that may be needed on hand, or have performed any actions the doctor has asked you to undertake before the appointment. You should also test your microphone and camera before the appointment to make sure that they are both operating properly. This helps to ensure that your appointment runs smoothly.
Making sure you are in a quiet, private space with adequate lighting will also help the appointment run smoothly, as you will be easy to hear and see.
How private is a telehealth session?
At MyHealth1st we are firm believers that patient privacy and security is of vital importance. As a result, our telehealth service is extremely safe and secure. When you book an appointment with a healthcare provider using our telehealth service, you will both be sent a unique link for the session.
This link will only be able to grant access to the session from 10 minutes before the scheduled start of the appointment until 15 minutes after the scheduled end. Only these two links can be used to access the appointment initially, making it all but impossible for someone to listen in on your appointment online. Up to two other people can be invited to join once you are in the session using a third unique link generated within the appointment.
Can an interpreter, family member or carer join me during a telehealth appointment?
Yes - up to four people can be involved with a telehealth appointment using the MyHealth1st service. Both you and the healthcare provider have the ability to invite people to the session, so you or the practitioner can add a translator, carer, family member, dependent, specialist or the like to the session. The host of the session (the practitioner) must accept the guest into the call once they have attempted to join.
What happens if the practitioner or I are running late?
The unique link generated for the MyHealth1t telehealth appointment is live from 5 mins before the scheduled appointment until 2 hours after it is scheduled to end. For an appointment from 9-9.15 am, the link will be valid until 11.15 am, so there is built-in leeway for lateness.
If you feel you may not be able to make the appointment at all, the confirmation email for the appointment has a “Modify or Cancel” link that enables you to reschedule. Please note that some practices do not allow for cancellations or rescheduling of appointments shortly before an appointment.
What do I do if the practitioner never joins the conversation?
Practitioners can cancel or reschedule appointments if there is an emergency but if that is the case you will see an email confirming that the appointment has been rescheduled or cancelled. You can cancel or reschedule your appointment via the “Modify or Cancel” link within the confirmation email for the initial appointment.
What equipment do I need?
As the MyHealth1st telehealth service is browser based, you can connect to an appointment with a computer (laptop or desktop), tablet or smartphone so long as they have an Internet browser. Some older browsers aren’t entirely compatible with the service so if you’re using Internet Explorer or older versions of Safari we recommend installing Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox to ensure the session works.In addition to a device with an Internet browser, you will also need a microphone and camera. Smartphones and tablets have these built-in, as do a number of laptops. Headphones or earbuds allow you to hear the conversation clearly without it echoing back through the microphone.
What happens if the appointment is interrupted or I lose connection?
The link you used to initially join the session can be used to reconnect to the session while it remains live. This means that if the loss of connection is brief you can simply rejoin with one click. If you lose connection for a significant amount of time, you may need to reschedule the appointment using the “Modify or Cancel” link in the confirmation email, or book a new appointment through the MyHealth1st booking portal.
Do I need a computer or can I use my smartphone or tablet?
You don’t need a computer, just a device with an Internet browser, so smartphones and tablets are definitely suitable for connecting to telehealth.