07 May 2020

RACGP survey reveals strong take up of telehealth but face to face consultations still available

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has released the results of a survey completed by over 1,180 Australian GPs showing that GPs and patients are heeding the message on telehealth.

More than 99% of surveyed GPs revealed that their practices are offering patients consultation via telehealth (including phone and video options). The survey also found that the vast majority of GP practices – almost 97% - are still offering face to face consultations, providing patients with flexible access options to seek the care they need.

The RACGP’s recently launched campaign Expert Advice Matters - which is urging all patients to take care of their health and see their GP for any health issues – has been emphasising the importance of telehealth and telephone consultations as part of the options available during the COVID-19 pandemic.

RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon welcomed the news.

“GPs on the frontline of COVID-19 are working incredibly hard and adapting how they consult with patients to help contain the spread of this virus.

“By adopting telehealth and telephone consultations, in addition to face to face consultations, they can take care of their patients and limit the transmission of COVID-19 in our communities.

“The reason the RACGP pushed so hard for the Federal Government to expand subsidised telephone consultations is that it is a technology that everyone has and will help limit the spread of COVID-19. Practices remain open and GPs are continuing to provide face to face consultations but not everything requires an in person consultation.

“I am mindful that many GPs may not have participated in telehealth video consultations or telephone consultations before. So it is wonderful news that they have changed the way they operate in these trying times to implement these changes and look after their patients.

“I would remind all Australians that if you aren’t confident using video consultation technologies such as Skype or Zoom that is okay. An old-fashioned phone will work just fine.

“There are of course some health concerns that can’t be taken care of over the phone and require a consultation in person. So it is great to see that almost all GP clinics are offering face to face consultations too.

“Please don’t neglect your health. It’s very concerning that some people have potentially been avoiding or delaying consultations during this pandemic and that is why we launched our GP expert advice campaign recently.

“A key component of not neglecting your health is taking advantage of telehealth and telephone consultations with your GP. They are offering this service so please take advantage of it.”

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