Telehealth incentives aid rural GPs

Rural and remote GPs stand to gain from lucrative incentives for telehealth consultations recently unveiled by the Gillard Government. 

From 1 July a suite of MBS rebates will see GPs outside inner-metropolitan areas paid to sit with patients while they consult a specialist via webcam. 

The item numbers attract a 35% loading on top of rebates for standard time-based consultations, a $40 incentive payment plus another $20 incentive if the consultation is bulk billed. One-off $6000 payments to cover equipment costs are on offer.

But with clinical standards and guidelines for the consultations still under development by the RACGP and ACRRM, early adopters will be left to set their own standards in relation to the security of patient data and the specifications of equipment involved. 

RACGP Telehealth Standards Taskforce chair Dr Mike Civil said there were several issues GPs needed to consider, such as confidentiality and