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Telehealth consultations

Telehealth consultations is the provision of healthcare over distance using communication technology. Technologies such as telephone and video conferencing enable specialists and patients to connect remotely, saving time and travel costs.


Click the topics below to learn more about ‘why’ and ‘how’ to use telehealth consultations and access professional development.

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Why use telehealth consultations?

Telehealth can have significant benefits for patients, specialists and their teams. When used in the right context, telehealth can offer an effective alternative to face-to-face consultations.


Use the arrows below to click through and learn more about the benefits of telehealth.

Specialists

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Specialists can benefit from telehealth consultations through:

  • Reduced travel, expense and time away from home,
  • Higher patient reach,
  • Reduced patient ‘no-shows’,
  • 'Just in time' assistance with difficult cases and emergencies,
  • Professional development for clinicians, e.g. informal knowledge transfer, and
  • Reduced professional isolation through collaboration and networking.

Practice Managers 

and Staff

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Practice Managers and Staff can benefit from telehealth consultations through:

  • Reduced overheads and more cost-effective delivery of service,
  • Improved coordination of care and service integration, and

  • Improved clinical workflows and increased practice efficiency.

Patients

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Patients can benefit from telehealth consultations through:

  • Improved access to health care decreasing healthcare inequality,
  • Reduced waiting time for specialist appointments,
  • Reduced travel, expense and time away from home,
  • Improved convenience,
  • Improved access for regional patients,

  • Faster diagnosis, and
  • Improved continuity and quality of care.

How to use telehealth consultations

Implementing and using telehealth consultations can be simple and deliver rapid benefits. In this section, you will find information explaining how a telehealth consultation works, how to implement telehealth consultations in your practice, and how to run an effective telehealth consultation.


Click the topics below to learn more.

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Telehealth enables specialists and patients to connect without being in the same room. The infographic below outlines how telehealth can work in your practice.

Practice staff manage specialist bookings or lists​

Patient and specialist connect remotely 

  • Eliminates difficult journeys for minor care
  • Reduces travel time and associated costs
  • Enables access from capable devices at most locations with connectivity
  • Reduced ‘no shows’

Telehealth consult

  • Familiar environment that helps to put patients at ease
  • Enables consult history/reference works while in consultation 
  • Enables documentation consultation in real time
  • Reduces involvement in low value activities

Telehealth consult is concluded remotely

  • Consultations run to time more often

Specialist updates patient records

  • Faster documentation due to in-session updates
  • Time is usually spent at the end of the day providing Patient records

Specialist conducts necessary follow-ups/ handover

Telehealth consultation infographic
Telehealth consultations infographic
Access the telehealth consultations fact sheet

This fact sheet provides a high level overview of telehealth and its benefits. 

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Access the telehealth consultations FAQ sheet

Please see the following FAQ sheet to answer any questions or queries that you may have regarding telehealth consultations.

Moving aspects of your care to be delivered through telehealth consultations will involve hardware, software, process, and training changes. Consider the steps below and the supplementary Implementation Guide to make this transition straightforward.

  

Click each of the steps below to learn more.

Access the telehealth consultations implementation guide

This implementation guide includes step-by-step guidance to help your practice implement telehealth.

Telehealth consultations will meet clinical needs better in some situations than others. Consider and determine which clinical scenarios can be appropriately managed via telehealth consultations. These scenarios will change depending on the specialty, type of consultations, and case mix.


The implementation guide includes questions which will help guide your practice though these considerations.

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Choosing to provide telehealth consultations requires hardware, software and connectivity considerations. Ensure that you have the necessary equipment, such as a webcam, microphone, and speakers, a strong enough internet connection, and a software solution that supports videoconferencing capability in line with your model of care.

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Promote telehealth consultations to your patients, change any necessary practice systems, and implement follow up processes for the consultations. Additionally, it is important that specialists are trained on key components of telehealth consultations, while staff who manage bookings, specialist schedules and any video conferencing equipment should also be trained where relevant.

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The next step involves testing your telehealth consultation process. Ensure that you have tested that all hardware and software is functional and working, and test the entire telehealth consultation process from start to finish.

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Now that your telehealth consultation process is set up, it will be important to ensure the necessary strategies are in place to manage ongoing risk. Speak to your medical indemnity insurance provider for help, increase staff awareness of medico-legal risks and safe strategies using the implementation guide as a reference, and prepare for unexpected events during a telehealth consultation.

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Telehealth consultations may feel uncomfortable or new at first. Key steps in the process to support an effective consultation include preparing your patients, getting ready for the telehealth session, running the session and closing the session. 


Click on each of the steps below to learn more.

Access the telehealth consultations implementation guide

This user guide includes step-by-step guidance to help you provide effective telehealth consultations.

The first step of conducting telehealth consultations is to provide patients with information about the remote consultations, including how to prepare, and to gain informed consent from the patient. Patient information should use plain language and include topics such as process details, consultation duration, main benefits, the limitations and risks, the main differences between telehealth consultations and alternative options for care, and the patient’s rights and responsibilities.

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The next step involves preparing for the telehealth consultation. Ensure that you are in an environment that supports virtual interactions, such as a well-lit room free of background noise, that you have the necessary hardware for the consultation (e.g., a webcam, microphone, and speakers), a ‘plan b’ is ready should technical issues arise, you have access to patient information, and that the telehealth consultation is clinically appropriate for the patient.

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A telehealth consultation is no different from any other medical consultation and should be conducted in a similar manner to a face-to-face consultation. A telehealth consultation of high quality is one in which recommendations for assessment, clarification of diagnosis, and recommendations for treatment and review are clearly communicated as per current best practice models of care. That said, it is important to understand and use good telehealth consultation etiquette, including appropriate eye contact, pausing after speaking and paying attention to one’s tone, as well as ensuring necessary documentation is occurring each consultation (e.g., a note should be made in the patient’s files that the consultation was conducted remotely through a telehealth consultation).

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To close the telehealth consultation, summarise key points from the interaction and what will happen next. Ask the patient if they need anything clarified, confirm and record verbally or in writing if the patient is happy to use telehealth again and ask the patient if they will complete an evaluation form. After the session, remember to undertake any necessary follow-ups, which could include sending the patient an electronic prescription, updating the patient's information, and recording any technical difficulties experienced.

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Need support?

For support with digital health, please contact the Digital Health Help Centre, request training or 

contact your local Primary Health Network (PHN).

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