Telehealth - Video consultation
There is growing consumer demand for access to video-consultation services provided by physiotherapists. Despite evidence to suggest that video consultations are cost effective, safe and well-received by consumers, private health insurers do not provide a rebate for physiotherapy services delivered via video consultation. This exacerbates existing access issues for many consumers, including those who live in rural and remote locations and those with significant mobility issues, eg, consumers with neurological condition who have limited capacity to travel.
The APA continues to advocate on behalf of its members to secure contemporary National Physiotherapy Service Descriptors (NPSD) that reflect current modes of practice. In particular, we strongly advocate for the inclusion of private health insurance rebates for video consultation. The purpose of the NPSDs is to provide the physiotherapy profession, consumers and third party insurers with a description of the services provided by physiotherapists and physiotherapy services.
The steps we are taking
The APA has been in discussions with Private Healthcare Australia—the private health insurance industry’s peak representative body—to advocate for rebates for video consultations by physiotherapists. These discussions are ongoing.
There is a small but growing cohort of Australian physiotherapists already providing video-consultation services. This is driven by increasing consumer demand and a consumer willingness to adopt new technologies.
How this helps
The provision of private health insurance rebates for video consultations will support physiotherapists to deliver accessible, timely healthcare. It provides physiotherapists and clients with a sustainable, accessible treatment mode, which is particularly relevant for rural and remote clients as well as people living with conditions that limit their capacity to travel.
Tools and resources
We are in the process of developing a suite of tools and guidance to support physiotherapists in the implementation of video consultations. The guidance will provide physiotherapists with a framework to support the adoption of telehealth in a manner that ensures the safety and quality of their practice. The guidance will be available on the APA website in late 2018.