From 1 November 2017, the Medicare ‘Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners’ (Better Access) initiative expanded to include telehealth (videoconference) consultations with eligible allied health professionals for Australians who are geographically isolated. The introduction of the telehealth measure aims to improve access to mental health services for people living or working in rural and remote locations.
Who will benefit from the new telehealth initiative?
Services under this measure are available to patients with an assessed mental disorder who would benefit from a structured approach to the management of their treatment needs. People who might otherwise have not been able to take up mental health therapy services because of where they live will have access to services from their home location via video conference. This improved access will allow people in need of mental health therapy services to receive treatment promptly, and reduce any potential inconvenience, time and expense of having to travel to larger regional centres or major cities for sessions with their treating allied mental health professional.
What services will be available?
Medicare rebates are available for up to ten individual and ten group mental health therapy services per calendar year (1 January – 31 December) to patients with a Mental Health Treatment Plan who are referred for mental health therapy services. Under the Telehealth measure, eligible allied mental health professionals will be able to deliver by videoconference.