Telehealth was again in the news this week with a couple of surveys out looking at patient and clinician views on their experiences with telehealth. While one survey of patients found a pretty good reception from patients and the other of clinicians showing similar, there still remain some technical barriers that are likely to dog telehealth take-up in primary care, specifically video-based telehealth, for the foreseeable future.
There was some criticism of the value of both of these surveys in the comments, and we particularly liked one reader's description of “cyber utopian views” of telehealth that ignore the real problems faced by patients in regional areas and older patients. Her practice uses video conferencing as a last resort, Shona Gallagher says, listing a number of real-world examples of why. Victorian GP Andrew Baird is a student of all things telehealth, and he is keen to hear of other people's experiences with video consultations. We'd like to know more as well, especially if you too have experienced telehealth at Bunnings.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health released its roadmap towards interoperability recently with little fanfare, but we think they should have made a bit more of a big deal about it as the plan is pretty good overall.
Refreshingly free of jargon, the document sets out what the current state of play is, what the future state should be, how the health sector will get there and what is probably achievable in five years. The ministry's Health Information Standards Organisation (HISO) calls it a “living document” which will be regularly updated and reports on progress made quarterly.
After months of agitation from the doctors' groups and tight lips from the Department of Health, the federal government finally came to the party and announced late on Thursday night that it would extend Medicare-funded telehealth for another six months.
The doctors' groups are still lobbying for the new MBS item numbers to be made permanent, but for the time being they will no longer expire on September 30 but carry through until March 31, 2021. The GP-led respiratory clinics and home medicines delivery will also continue for another six months, although it appears that the subsidy for COVID-related SMSs might expire as scheduled.