Long-term telehealth funding may fall short

START-UP grants and incentive payments for GPs engaging in new telehealth consults may not be enough to sustain the services in the long term, the AMA is warning.

From the beginning of this month, a suite of new 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.

While welcoming the move as a positive step that will improve patient services, the AMA has called on the Government to back the scheme with further funding or risk leaving patients out of pocket as practices attempt to cover ongoing costs.

“After the initial four-year period, there is no ongoing allowance to cover the continued costs of telehealth