Telehealth delays despite GP cash

A LACK of technical and clinical standards for telehealth consultations could delay GP uptake of the technology despite lucrative Government incentives, experts say.

The Government last week unveiled a suite of new MBS rebates that will see GPs outside inner-metropolitan areas paid to sit with patients while they consult a specialist via webcam.

The new item numbers attract a 35% loading on top of the rebates for standard time-based consultations, as well as a $40 incentive payment and an additional $20 incentive if the consultation is bulk-billed.

These incentives will be scaled back over the scheme’s first five years.

GPs will also be eligible for a one-off $6000 payment to cover costs of equipment and set-up if they claim their first telehealth consultation before July 2012. 

With clinical standards and guidelines for the consultations still under development by the RACGP and ACRRM, early adopters will be left to