Good news updates as part of keeping up the fight against COVID-19
Coronavirus or COVID-19, whatever you call it, is still with us: it’s still a pandemic and the efforts to keep a lid on its spread continue. However, Australia and Queensland have become global beacons of good virus control. As a result, Medicare and Queensland Health have made a few good-news updates to health guidelines.
As a result, Hawthorne Clinic is pleased to announce changes to how we book and bill appointments. While the social distancing, hand hygiene and Infection Control Protocols will remain, these changes represent something of a welcome “return to normal”.
Face-to-face appointment booking is back
The main news is that, once again, you can now again directly book face-to-face appointments with your GP. However, you will be asked a few screening questions at booking and, if you have respiratory symptoms or are deemed high-risk, you’ll be asked to book an initial telehealth appointment.
What do the changes mean for you?
The return of directly booked in-person consultations brings quite a few advantages:
Better interaction: All the team at Hawthorne Clinic is looking forward to seeing you back in the practice again. We’ve missed you!
Convenience and choice: You now can choose between the thoroughness of an in-person consultation and the convenience of a telehealth consultation (subject to suitability and clinical requirements). The fee and Medicare rebates are the same.
Quality of care: While telehealth has certainly served a valuable purpose (and will continue doing so), ultimately there’s no substitute for the quality of care achieved by sitting down with your GP face-to-face and talking through your concerns.
In terms of billing, as of 1 October 2020, Medicare changed the funding guidelines for telehealth appointments. So, we’re still able to offer telehealth appointments, but they’ll now be billed in line with our standard practice fees of $83 with a Medicare rebate of $38.75.
This payment will be due at the time of the consultation, and we then submit the Medicare claim on your behalf. Medicare has extended the rebate funding for the telehealth program out to March 2021.
Why these changes have come in
Some of these changes have been brought on by Queensland Health changing the risk classification of community transmission in our state from Moderate to Low. This means an easing in the rules around social gatherings, venues, border restrictions and aged-care visits. The timing of Medicare’s changes to telehealth funding and guidelines was coincidental. The two factors combined mean our clinic is reacting to make accessing medical care easier and better for you.