Telehealth: lots of risk but very little guidance

TELEHEALTH MBS items, due to be available from 1 July, offer GPs and specialists the opportunity to conduct video consultations and represent an important reform that should improve patient access to medical services, in particular to specialist services.

However, a number of issues need to be addressed to ensure patient safety is maintained, doctors are not put at medico-legal risk and, importantly, that the $250 million program represents money well spent.

A major concern is the fact that currently there is no requirement for training before doctors start providing these services. 

The introduction of funded video consults can be compared with the introduction of laparoscopic surgical techniques, in that the task remains the same but the new tools makes the process more complex. 

Following the perforation of a patient’s bowel during laparoscopic gallbladder surgery, an article written in the BMJ in 1994 raised concerns