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. 

Patients who test positive to COVID-19 on a PCR test or rapid antigen test (RAT) within the last seven days can access general telehealth consultations from any GP under normal MBS telehealth eligibility requirements. This means they do not need to have seen the GP providing the service or another health professional at the same practice in-person at least once in the last 12 months to access telehealth.

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.