Virtual Healthcare Industry: Telehealth in 2022

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Embraced by medical professionals and the public from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth is a safe, effective way to deliver patient care. Recognising its important role, on 1 January 2022, the Australian Government made telehealth a permanent feature of our primary healthcare system.

More than 16 million people have received telehealth consultations following its introduction in March 20211,  transforming the way health professionals can reach their patients. GPs, nurses, naturopaths and nutritionists alike welcome the convenience of this virtual health delivery service, in conjunction with face-to-face consultations.

For our student practitioners in Nutrition, Naturopathy, Western Herbal Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine, telehealth consultations are now integral to their learning experience. In 2021, Torrens University’s student-run clinics took around 2930 telehealth appointments, and as the public’s awareness of telehealth grows, its use will continue to increase.

Connecting with Telehealth short course 

In this time of change, we recognise our responsibility to help our students and practicing health professionals to use telehealth to its full potential. Our one-hour course, Connecting with Telehealth, is designed to give you an understanding of the telehealth services, including best practice in telehealth service delivery. This free course also provides practical skills, so you can build your confidence in the use of telehealth and successfully incorporate it into your healthcare provision. 

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth lets health practitioners and patients meet via video services and over the phone, when the health professional determines that it is clinically appropriate. For the initial and complex consultations, face-to-face and video services may be used. For subsequent and minor consultations, telehealth is a convenient and viable alternative.  

Who can access it and who pays? 

People living in regional, rural and remote areas, whose closest hospital or clinic might be hundreds of kilometres away can access telehealth services at home. Telehealth also brings professional advice and care to patients with mobility issues, and anyone who can’t easily fit in medical appointments among the demands of their work and family life. 

Medicare now includes telehealth consultations for all the health services that it covers.
This makes telehealth a key feature of Australia’s universal healthcare system.

Face-to-face meetings with health practitioners are still essential

The telephone and online consultations don’t replace the important face-to-face meetings between the patient and their doctor, psychologist, naturopath or other health practitioners. Before having a telehealth consultation with a doctor, for example, the patient must have had a face-to-face consultation with the same GP or another in the same practice in the past 12 months before they can meet via video or over the phone. 

Truly transformative

‘In a country like Australia, dotted with remote and rural communities, telehealth is, quite literally, a lifesaver,’ says Professor Justin Beilby, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research at Torrens University, and a general practitioner. 

Telehealth brings healthcare to everyone – to people in the regions who live far from hospitals and clinics; to those with limited mobility, who can now dial in for a consultation at home; and to people too busy to always visit their GP or naturopath in person. 
It means health practitioners can continue to build caring professional relationships with their patients safe from the spread of disease. As well, it can ease the burden on hospitals and health facilities, and save everyone in the community time and money. 

Telehealth shows that from challenges, opportunities can flourish. 

To join this health revolution, sign up for the free Connecting with Telehealth course – part of Torrens University Australia’s extensive suite of free, on-demand short courses.

For more information on Connecting with Telehealth, click here.
 1Australian Government, Department of Health, ‘Ongoing Telehealth – Strengthening Primary Care’
Check our Health Courses to learn more
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