Telehealth uptake fails to meet targets

Only one fifth of the multi­million dollar telehealth budget designed to bring specialist care to rural Australia has been spent, new figures suggest.

The original goal was to fund 495,000 telehealth consultations by mid-2015. But in March this year, only 169,602 services had been delivered in the three years since the scheme was launched.

Although the federal health department emphasises that MBS claims for the consults are rising, its annual report shows that in 2012/13 only $10 million of the $58.2 million budget for telehealth consultation was spent.