Jumping on the telehealth bandwagon

WHEN it comes to telehealth, West Australian GP Dr Mike Civil is what you might call an early adopter.

Since putting together a video-conferencing unit for about $2000 last year, Dr Civil’s Stirk Medical Group at Kalamunda has claimed about 300 consultations under the telehealth MBS items rolled out by the government last year.

While he’s not quite alone, Dr Civil is one of an enterprising few: figures show that only about 2200 video consultations involving GPs were claimed for the six months the items were available.

That’s well short of the numbers needed to meet the government’s expectations of 495,000 telehealth consultations over four years and something of a puzzle when there’s $6000 available to each GP as an incentive the first time they claim a telehealth item.

“We got involved after we were approached by a rheumatologist who wanted to do [dual energy x-ray absorptiometry] DEXA scanning for