Ask Kelly: COVID-19 and Telehealth Services

21 October 2020
Welcome to Ask Kelly. The current COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on how we live, work, learn and interact. While we have been offering a free telehealth service here at CPSN for quite a while now, COVID-19 has seen in a rise in the use of telehealth to access a wide range of medical care and therapies. So, I wanted to explore more about telehealth, what it is, and how you can benefit from it during this time of isolation.

So, what is telehealth? 

Telehealth is how registered health professionals can provide a service remotely, either by contact over the phone or over the internet using a secure video platform. 

When can it be used? 

When an individual has an appointment or receives a service which does not require hands-on care. 

When is telehealth not appropriate? 

  • If you need urgent medical attention  
  • If you are symptomatic for COVID-19 or have had contact with someone who has the virus 
  • If a physical examination is required (eg. to diagnose a new physical health issue) 
  • If the care required is a hands-on procedure (eg. a nurse taking a blood sample)
  • If you have not met the health professional before – this will be case by case, some specialist doctors for example may only offer telehealth for follow up, whereas GPs may not mind if they have not met you in person.

What do I need to participate in a telehealth appointment? 

When a telehealth appointment is made the service will need to provide you with details and instructions for logging on 

You can use your mobile phone, a laptop, pc or tablet for telehealth appointments 

As with any face to face consults you will need information you wish to discuss, for example a diary of seizure activity or a list of questions that you want to ask.  

If you are using your phone and you can connect to Wi-Fi you should do so. This will ensure that you are not using the data on your mobile plan and possibly incurring a charge from your telco. 

What else should I know? 

The telehealth appointment will be billed in the same manner as a face-to-face appointment. Therefore, if the face-to-face appointment would have been covered by NDIS funding or Medicare, then it still will be. Be sure to ask at the time of booking what costs may be involved, especially if it is a specialist appointment which would ordinarily incur a fee. 

You can have some medications prescribed via telehealth. The doctor will need the contact number, fax number, and mailing address for your local pharmacy to send your script to them directly. Make sure you have these details available for your appointment if you are requesting a medication.  

Different pharmacies will have different policies – so it’s best to call and ask about collection and payment. You may be able to make payment over the phone to limit the time spent/contact required to pay in person. If you are collecting on behalf of someone for whom you are not a guardian/relative or you are electing someone to collect on your behalf, then it’s best to call the pharmacy. 

Some doctors don’t require an appointment to dispense repeat scripts. Some have options to request online or you can call reception. Depending on the clinic these repeat scripts may incur a fee – be sure to ask. 

Some services are still taking clients-face-to-face. If you have a face-to-face appointment booked, or you feel that you need to attend a clinic please call ahead to discuss your need and the distancing/infection control measures that they have in place.  

Do you have questions about telehealth? I’m happy to assist. Please call Kelly – 1300 277 600, email cpsn@cpsn.org.au – or reach us on our Facebook page.  

Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter

Become a CPSN member

Donate to CPSN