Home-care guidelines for patients with COVID-19

Conducting telehealth consultations

Telehealth consultations between the patient and their usual GP can be used for the following purposes:

  • Assessment of disease status
  • Identification of risk factors for severe disease
  • Management of associated symptoms
  • Management of pre-existing illnesses
  • Education and health promotion, including the use of pulse oximetry
  • Capturing changes in symptoms of, and trends in, SpO2
  • Early detection of deterioration requiring hospital admission
  • Referral for investigations and surveillance testing
  • Screening for the need for an in-home assessment
  • Assessment of adequacy of in-home support
  • Review of the patient symptom diary
  • Provision of mental health support
  • Welfare check in the home
  • Provision of an updated action plan

Frequency and mode of telehealth consultation (phone or video) will be determined by the management protocol selected based on the patient’s identified risk using clinician discretion. It might be appropriate for a nurse to conduct welfare checks and telehealth consultations depending on the severity of illness, the patient’s risk factors for deterioration and the practice’s business model. Care should be escalated and a clinical review be conducted by the GP if the patient shows any signs of deterioration or if they are not improving. 

Additional MBS items are available for services provided for people required to isolate because of a state or territory public health order, including longer telephoneconsultations, and an exemption from the 12-month face-to-face rule. GPs should be familiar with the MBS requirements for these items – refer to COVID-19 Temporary MBS Telehealth Services information, available at  www.mbsonline.gov.au

Refer to the RACGP’s Guide to providing telehealth and video consultations in general practice for more information. For patients requiring an interpreter, refer to the RACGP’s Telehealth consultations using an interpreter.

Patients undertaking telehealth consultations should be afforded the same privacy as if they had presented to a general practice. Therefore, the patient should be directed to undertake the consultation in a private space, away from other household members. This will give them the opportunity to raise any concerns with the GP regarding their welfare at home.