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Telehealth Updates and links regarding COVID-19

Daily case and situation updates from the Department of Health

Daily reports on COVID-19 case numbers and the current situation in Australia and overseas

 

Stay Informed

Download the official government “Coronavirus Australia” app in the Apple App Store or Google Play, or join our WhatsApp channel on iOS or Android.

 

Covid-19 Clinics in WA

https://healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/COVID-clinics

 

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Telehealth provider promotion packs - HBF

Telehealth Benefits A4 Poster_OT

HBF provider pack_Occupational Therapy

HBF has created some resources to share with providers, in instances where they would like to promote HBF paying telehealth benefits. Contents of the pack contains:

  • A4 poster artwork (can be automatically resized to print as A3)
  • Instructions and artwork for:
    • 1 x social media post (Facebook or Instagram)
    • 1 x eDM

Of course there is no requirement for providers to promote, this is purely support for providers who would like to promote telehealth benefits and encourage their patients that are HBF members to take up the temporary benefits.

Date has been extended to 31st December 2020

NDIS: Improved plan flexibility to support participants and providers

NDIS have updated there systems to make things easier for providers and participants, particularly during COVID-19. These improvements are:

  • increased flexibility for participants to use funds across all Core Support categories
  • ability for providers and participants to edit Agency-created service bookings including Supported Independent Living 
  • automatically extended plans now including eligible assistive technology.

Core support flexibility

Agency and plan-managed participants now have increased flexibility to use Core funding across all Core Support categories.

Participants with funding in their plan for at least one Core Support category no longer need to have $1 in a particular Core Support category to reallocate funds across the categories, including transport.

The transport support category is now also flexible within the Core budget. However, participants who have elected to receive their transport funding as a periodic payment will not be able to use that funding flexibly as it is pre-paid. This does not impact on participants who will continue to receive their periodic payment for transport.

Registered providers can still only claim for services and supports in their registration group. Service bookings only need to be updated if there is a change in a participant’s required supports.

Editing service bookings

Providers and participants are now able to edit Agency-created service bookings, including the duration, unit prices and quantities.

Service bookings which require quote approvals can only be increased if a plan has been automatically extended. Predominantly, these will be bookings for Supported Independent Living or Specialist Disability Accommodation.

Participants need to consent to any change to their service booking before a provider can make those changes, unless it is part of a plan auto-extension.

For more information on managing service bookings, please visit the NDIS website.

Assistive technology now included in plan auto-extensions

Assistive technology (AT) funding and specific items will now be included when participant plans are auto-extended, providing participants had AT supports in their previous plan.

  • This will be up to the value of $3,000 if 50 per cent or more was utilised in the previous plan.           
  • This will also be capped at $3,000 (if less than this amount was in the previous plan the lower amount will be included).
  • Specific assistive technology items will be duplicated in the new plan, if 50 per cent or more of the funds were utilised in the previous plan for repairs and maintenance.

Supported Independent Living plan auto-extensions and service bookings

When we have been unable to undertake a plan review before a participant’s current plan ends, it is automatically extended by 365 days.

This creates a discrepancy between service bookings and the plan, because the Supported Independent Living (SIL) service booking displays a higher amount than the plan amount.

SIL providers should claim at the amount for the original (non-extended) plan and accepted quote.

When a participant has a new plan in place, SIL providers can claim at a rate appropriate to the new plan.

More information on Plan Flexibility

Supported Independent Living

Various Posters - changes of hours, good hygiene, cough practices, social distancing

Change of hours business poster

Temporary changes to business poster

Good hygiene practices poster

Keep that cough undercover poster

Keeping your distance poster

Updated 20th May: Implications for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) National Boards and Ahpra

Updated advice as at 20th May 2020

What are the implications for health practitioners who don’t complete the requirements of their National Board’s CPD registration standard due to COVID-19?

The COVID-19 emergency has affected registered health practitioners’ CPD in various ways. In some cases CPD events have been cancelled, or practitioners’ leave, and in other cases, practitioners have had CPD opportunities associated with COVID-19. National Boards encourage practitioners to continue CPD relevant to their practice where possible. However, they do not want CPD requirements to take practitioners away from clinical care or cause additional concerns to practitioners already under extra pressure due to COVID-19. If a practitioner can’t meet the CPD standard because of the COVID-19 pandemic, then generally National Boards won’t take any action for the registration period during which the COVID-19 emergency is in force. However, if the COVID-19 emergency resolves more quickly than expected, National Boards may issue updated guidance about what CPD they would expect practitioners to complete within the current registration period.

 

Previous Advice as at 2nd April

We encourage you to continue to do CPD that is relevant to your scope of practice. The Board has recognised that learning can occur through a wide variety of CPD activities. Some examples of activities that would not require you to meet in large gatherings or to travel could include:

  • online learning and internet research
  • written reflections on experience in day-to-day clinical practice
  • reading books and journals relevant to your practice
  • quality assurance activities, such as accreditation, clinical audits or review of record
  • participation in committees relevant to your practice, and
  • professional or interprofessional interactions (in small group settings) such as meetings, case reviews, clinical forums which can also be done online.

However, we understand that you may have difficulty meeting CPD requirements this year as a result of withdrawn/denied leave requests, conference cancellations and the re-prioritisation necessary to meet workforce needs. The Board will not take action if you cannot meet the CPD registration standard due to the pandemic when you renew your registration this year.

The Board will keep a close watch on the situation to determine whether the 2021 renewal year is affected.

PPE for combined contact, droplet and airborne precautions

This video briefly outlines the principles and steps for putting on and taking off PPE when applying contact, droplet and airborne precautions in addition to standard precautions, when aerosol generating procedures are conducted on patients with COVID-19.

National principles for clinical education during COVID-19

Ahpra and the National Boards, together with the Australian Government and the Health Professions Accreditation Collaborative Forum, have set national principles for clinical education to guide decisions of professions, Accreditation Authorities, education providers and health services about student clinical education during the COVID-19 pandemic response.

Download a PDF of the National principles for clinical education during the COVID-19 pandemic (114 KB,PDF)

Online Uploads for Documents (AHPRA)

27 Mar 2020

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) has introduced an online upload service to receive applications, forms and supporting documents as part of the response to the way individuals are registered in the context of COVID-19.

This means applicants and registrants can submit their applications, forms and supporting documents to Ahpra online instead of sending hardcopy documents to Ahpra in the mail.

This is one of the measures Ahpra is introducing to support social distancing requirements. For now, it reduces the need for applicants and registrants to come into Ahpra offices to lodge applications.

Certified copies of documents are still required as indicated on forms.

To be uploaded, documents must be:

  •  in colour, clear and legible
  • less than 10MB, and
  • in one of the following formats: .JPG, .JPEG, .GIF, .PNG, .PDF, .TIF, .TIFF.

To upload documents or for more information go to the Online upload page

Telehealth OT - Facebook Group
Telehealth OT: this is a private Facebook group for Collaborative OTs and health professionals at the forefront of pioneering Telehealth. 
There are more groups available if you search within Facebook ‘Telehealth OT’
Minister for NDIS Stuart Robert 27th April Update: Further Initiatives announced for participants and disability providers

Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Stuart Robert, today announced further initiatives to support NDIS participants and disability providers during the coronavirus pandemic.

For the next five months, eligible participants will be able to flexibly use existing NDIS plan funding to purchase low-cost Assistive Technology, including smart devices, to enable continued access to disability supports through telehealth and telepractice while physical distancing regulations are in place for coronavirus pandemic. This new development is important for ensuring NDIS participants remain connected to their services and disability supports.

Also, new support items for Supported Independent Living (SIL) providers are now available where a participant has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, including higher intensity support and professional cleaning services. This is to ensure minimum service disruption and the continued delivery of services.

Lastly, to ensure all eligible Australians continue to be able to apply for access to the NDIS, downloadable Access Request and Supporting Evidence Forms are now available on the NDIS website.

These initiatives build on previous coronavirus-specific supports announced for NDIS participants and providers, including outbound calls to high-risk participants, special teams of planners to assist participants, flexible use of funding to access disability supports and for providers, cash flow assistance and a 10 per cent COVID-19 loading on some services.

Since the announcement of these initiatives on 21 March, almost $600 million has been paid in one-month advance payments to almost 5,000 providers to offer immediate cash flow relief and ensure services could continue. Whilst, as of last week, more than $300 million in weekly provider payments were processed, indicating the majority of services are continuing and participants are still accessing the disability supports they need.

For Providers

NDIS Website pricing guide and forms

MBS Online Update as at 20th April 2020

From 20 April 2020:

  • Specialists and allied health providers are no longer required to bulk-bill COVID-19 telehealth (video conference) and telephone consultations where the service is provided to a concessional or vulnerable patient or a child under 16.
  • Two new bulk-billing incentive items are now available where a medical service is provided to a vulnerable patient:
    – item 10981 mirrors the current item 10990 metropolitan
    – item 10982 mirrors the current item 10991 regional
  • 28 new telehealth items are now available – for specialists and for services provided by a practice nurse or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioner on behalf of a medical practitioner

For details visit the 20 April News page

NDIS Quality & Safeguards Commission: Provider Alert - Letter to registered providers

The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner sent a letter to all registered providers on 10 March 2020, with a hard copy of the copy of the Provider Alert of 9 March 2020. The letter drew providers’ attention to the information in the alert about COVID-19, and explained that it is essential for registered providers to remain subscribed to NDIS Commission communications.

https://www.ndiscommission.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020-03/20200310-letter-commissioner.pdf

Alternative approaches to demonstrating English language proficiency (7th April 2020)

National Boards and Ahpra are aware that practitioners may have difficulty demonstrating English language proficiency with the current disruption to English language testing. We understand that this may cause some stress for applicants. We are working to identify options while English language tests are disrupted, including whether we may be able to extend the validity of test results safely. We will publish more information as soon as we can.

Test providers are regularly updating their information about test availability , so you may like to visit their websites directly:

Covid-19 Infection Control Training - Dept of Health

Department of Health offer a 30-minute online training module for health care workers in all settings. It covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19.

This training is for care workers across all health care settings, including:

  • hospitals
  • primary care
  • aged care (both in residential aged care facilities or with visiting carers at home, including cleaners and cooks)
  • disability (both in residential/shared care facilities or part-time carers in people’s homes, including cleaners and cooks)
  • allied health
  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services
  • pharmacies
  • dental practices, including dentists, nurses, cleaners and receptionists

This training module covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19 including:

  • COVID-19 – what is it?
  • Signs and symptoms
  • Keeping safe – protecting yourself and others
  • Myth busting

Click here to register for this training 

 

Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (2019)

The guidelines are produced by the National Health and Medical Research Council in collaboration with the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare, and are accessible in two formats: a new IT platform MAGICapp or via a pdf.

The guidelines are available on an interactive ‘living guidelines’ platform. This allows for ‘point of care’ use and for the guidelines to be accessed in both online and offline formats across a range of devices through an application or web browser.

  1. Visit MAGICapp
  2. From the guidelines list, click on ‘Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare (2019)’ to view the guidelines.
  3. Look for the NHMRC logo to indicate which guidelines we have authored. Please allow time for the guidelines to load.

Help: How to access and use the guidelines – click on ‘Download‘ section  

If you have any issues accessing the guidelines, please contact [email protected]

Mental Health Support
  • Australian Psychological Society: tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety 
  • Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636, providing support and information on anxiety, depression and suicide 
  • Government of Western Australia: looking after your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • Headspace: How to cope with stress related to Novel Coronavirus 
  • Kids Helpline: Are you worried about novel coronavirus (COVID-19)? 
  • Life in Mind: Coronavirus (COVID-19) mental health support resources for suicide prevention community and people looking for information about suicide 
  • Lifeline: 13 11 14  has a  24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services 
  • MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78 online and telephone counselling service for men with emotional health and relationship concerns 
  • Phoenix Australia: Coronavirus (COVID-19) mental health resources 
  • ReachOut resources to help manage wellbeing 
Ahpra Telehealth Guidance for Practitioners - 16th April

https://www.ahpra.gov.au/News/COVID-19/Telehealth-guidance-for-practitioners.aspx

Ahpra and the National Boards have developed the following information which outlines our expectations of how registered health practitioners will use telehealth in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While practitioners may decide to use telehealth for a range of reasons, the Australian Government has recently introduced new temporary Medicare Benefit Scheme (MBS) telehealth items. Information about these new temporary telehealth items can be found on the MBS website.

Download a PDF of the Telehealth guidance for practitioners (107 KB,PDF)

HBF

Due to ongoing restrictions and impacts to accessing services, HBF has made the decision to extend the temporary funding of telehealth services until 31st December 2020

 
Our executive committee have been actively engaging with HBF regarding telehealth and we are pleased to announce that from 11th May 2020, HBF have introduced a new temporary item number to allow claiming for subsequent Occupational Therapy treatment provided via telehealth with a duration of 20-30 minutes . Please find the details of the new item below:
 
 
Item Number Item Description Required delivery method and duration
H603 Individual Subsequent Treatment Telehealth 20-30 minutes 20-30 minutes via video

Although item H603 was introduced 11th May, if a member received treatment that meets all eligibility criteria and the service was provided on or after 1 April 2020, HBF will pay a benefit.

 

From 9 April 2020, HBF introduced temporary benefits for certain Occupational Therapy services when delivered via video conference. These temporary benefits are in line with the benefits members are ordinarily entitled to for face-to-face treatment. 

Although benefits have been introduced effective 9 April 2020, we are aware members may have received COVID-19 related telehealth treatment prior to this date. If the telehealth treatment meets all eligibility criteria detailed below and the service was provided on or after 16 March 2020, HBF will pay a benefit. 

These temporary benefits end on 30 June 2020, however we’ll review the progress and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and consider the potential for extension before that date. 

 

Eligibility Criteria 

Eligible members may receive HBF benefits for the treatments specified, and in the circumstances described in the tables. Please see Frequently Asked Questions for member eligibility criteria.

For HBF benefits to be payable, the treatment must be delivered by an HBF Approved Provider and Medicare benefits must not be payable for the treatment. The telehealth treatment must also be delivered via synchronous communication (i.e. in real time).

Normal waiting periods, benefits, limits and exclusions apply. Some additional exclusions (including group consults and classes) also apply. Out of pocket costs are likely to apply.

 

Account Requirements 

In addition to normal requirements outlined in the HBF Approved Provider Terms & Conditions, telehealth accounts issued by providers must clearly indicate: 

  • Delivery method – i.e. video conference 
  • Treatment start and end times (e.g. 1pm to 1.30pm)
  • Duration (e.g. 30 minutes)
Item number  Item description  Required delivery method and session duration 
H601  Individual Initial Assessment Telehealth  At least 45 minutes via video 
H602  Individual Subsequent Treatment Telehealth  At least 30 minutes via video 

 

Service Delivery Requirements

 

The choice to use particular telehealth technologies rests with individual providers and is dependent on suitability for individual patients. Telehealth treatment must only be provided where clinically necessary to do so in order for HBF benefits to be payable. Providers should be mindful of the likelihood of foreseeable limitations when using technology and have procedures in place for detecting, diagnosing and fixing equipment problems.

Providers should also ensure that there are additional procedures in place for conducting the consultation ensuring that the basic requirements of telehealth are met. This also should include the clinical aspects of privacy, confidentiality, patient consent and risk management.

Telehealth treatment must be delivered in accordance with the relevant association and/or industry guidelines.

HBF does not require the member to be undergoing an existing course of treatment or to have an existing relationship with the provider to be eligible for telehealth benefits. HBF does not require telehealth treatment to be recommended by the member’s GP.

HBF benefits for telehealth treatment are only payable where the treatment is delivered via synchronous communication (i.e. in real time).

Providers who have queries should contact their dedicated provider line (08) 9265 8878 or [email protected]. We also encourage you to visit HBF telehealth webpage for both members and providers hbf.com.au/telehealth. 

BUPA

Bupa, has announced customers will soon be covered for a number of ancillary health services including occupational therapy delivered through telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

BUPA have recognised telehealth services for Occupational Therapists effective 30th March. Click here to view BUPA telehealth guidelines 

Private Healthcare Australia has introduced a new set of Telehealth items which Bupa will be adopting. It is important that practitioners make the switch to using these new codes to denote Telehealth consultations as this will allow retrospective examination of utilisation data to inform us as to how we might proceed with discussions regarding Telehealth services in the future. 

Current Item              

New Telehealth Item 

100 

601 Individual Initial/Referred Assessment by tele-consultation                

200 

602 Individual Subsequent Treatment by tele-consultation 

  

Evidence-based resources for health professionals and health organisations (JBI Covid-19 Special Collection)

This free access Special Collection provides health professionals and health organisations with the best available evidence on infection prevention and infection control measures.

The Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI) COVID-19 Special Collection includes JBI Evidence Summaries that provide a succinct summary of the best available evidence related to a clinical topic including best practice recommendations to help clinicians mobilise evidence into practice, and JBI Recommended Practices that provide standardised, detailed descriptions of best practice care procedures. These resources align with the WHO guidance on infection prevention and control principals for practicing health professionals and organisations.

This Special Collection will be updated regularly to include new evidence related to safe, effective practice for individual health professionals, as well as evidence related to organisational knowledge needs for service-wide evidence on current best practice with an emphasis on infection prevention and control measures. These can be used in conjunction with local policy requirements as set out by government agencies.

Note: The fundamental need for personal and organisational commitment to infection prevention and control is the core focus of this evidence collection.

  • Evidence-based resources for health professionals
  • Evidence-based resources for health organisations
  • Supplementary evidence-based healthcare care resources

Click here to view 

Defence Health

Defence Health has introduced the COVID-19 Support Program to help members during this pandemic Support in these exceptional circumstances can be found here, which includes telehealth consultations for members requiring occupational therapy.  

Eligible telehealth claims can be made via all the usual claim channels. Members can make Extras claims via the mobile claim app, through the member portal or by calling 1800 335 425. 

Department of Veteran Affairs

On 1 April 2020, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs expanded access to telehealth services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This enables medical, community nursing and many allied health services to continue to be provided to Australia’s veteran community, via videoconference or telephone (‘telehealth’). Initial and subsequent treatment consultations may be delivered to all eligible DVA clients via telephone or video conferencing attendance for the period 1 April to 30 September 2020. Standard, extended and follow-up aids assessment consultations may also be claimed where an assessment can reasonably be provided by telehealth. Telehealth services may only be provided if the full service can be delivered safely and in accordance with all relevant professional standards and clinical guidelines. The government will make an assessment prior to 30th September as to whether an extension of this arrangement is required. 

Occupational Therapists Schedule of Fees effective 1st April 2020 

Occupational Therapists (Mental Health) Schedule of Fees effective 1st April 2020 

National Disability Service WA - NDIS and COVID-19 Support

NDIS Providers: https://waota.com.au/uncategorised/new-measures-to-support-ndis-providers-through-covid-19/ 

National Disability Service – Our team are here to help and is taking on the function of COVID-19 Sector Support.  We are happy to provide support for those delivering disability support via phone or email. You can contact the team on the details below: 

Email-   [email protected] 

Phone 

Danielle 08 92089821 

Melanie 08 9208 9857 

Leslie 08 9208 9840 

Medibank Private and ahm

Medibank and ahm boost access to telehealth during pandemic

From Tuesday 14th April 2020, Medibank and ahm have agreed to pay benefits for individual (one on one) consultations delivered via telehealth for dietetics, speech pathology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, podiatry and exercise physiology. In line with national government COVID-19 initiatives, benefits will be paid towards consultations for the allied health professions until 30th September 2020

Medibank Newsroom 

New Item numbers and Submitting Claims:  Medibank members can submit claims through usual channels including My Medibank and the My Medibank app. When they login to My Medibank, there will be a message on that page providing directions on how to make these claims. ahm members can submit claims through channels including online, ahm app or email. Please note, telehealth claims will not be able to be submitted via electronic claiming channels (HICAPS and Healthpoint). The following new telehealth item numbers and descriptions have been established and provided to all Private Health funds, HICAPS and Healthpoint. It is at each fund’s discretion as to whether they will use the allocated telehealth item numbers. Medibank and ahm will accept the following new telehealth item numbers and descriptions. These telehealth item numbers are available for all Medibank and ahm recognised providers, not just our Medibank Members’ Choice providers.

The benefits paid towards these telehealth consultations the same as the equivalent face to face consultation.

Modality 

New item code and description 

Established /Equivalent item code and description 

Occupational Therapy 

601 Individual Initial/Referred Assessment by tele-consultation 

100 Initial Individual Assessment Occupational Therapy 

Occupational Therapy 

602 Individual Subsequent Treatment by tele-consultation

200 Individual Assessment/Treatment

Provider queries relating to Medibank can be directed to the Medibank provider help desk. The contact details are listed below: Members’ Choice Ancillary providers – 1300 720 165 

Non Members’ Choice Ancillary Providers – 1300 654 887

Provider queries for ahm can be directed to:

ahm contact centre – 134 246 (follow the prompts to the provider line).

Accredited Hand Therapists

The Credentialing Council acknowledges the serious impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on our everyday lives, including the way in which OTs can practice hand therapy. A recommendation for changes to accreditation and reaccreditation for 2020 has been made. 

Changes can be viewed here https://www.ahta.com.au/advocacy-during-covid19

NIB Health Fund

Telehealth consultations for occupational therapy are available temporarily until 30th June 2020, but they will be reviewing the pandemic situation to determine if this date should be extended.  

A service will only be provided by telehealth where it is safe and clinically appropriate as determined by the  provider. 

Item Code 601 Individual Initial/Referred Assessment by teleconsultation 

INDIVID INIT ASSESS T/C 

HiCaps code 602 Individual Subsequent Treatment by teleconsultation 

INDIVID SUB TRMT T/C 

Government Update for Allied Health: Re Covid-19 "Primary Care and Allied Health Professionals" Presented by Medical Advisors for Allied Health - Professor Michael Kidd AM and Dr Andrew Singer, Department of Health, 26th March 2020:

Government update re Covid 19 

Session was recorded and can be viewed at https://publish.viostream.com/app/s-n3tuxsb 

COVID-19 Webinar Update for Allied Health Professionals 16th April 2020

Webinar Link: https://publish.viostream.com/app/s-n4noc6s

Speakers: Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Michael Kidd AM, Alison McMillan Chief Nursing / Midwifery and Penny Shakespeare Deputy Secretary Health Financing 

Notes taken from webinar update: 

  1. Reiterated Allied Health is an ESSENTIAL SERVICE
  2. Stay home if unwell, even scratchy throat or any flu like symptoms
  3. PPE does not need to be used if both patient/client and staff member are well, washing hands is first line of defence. If PPE is normally worn then continue to do so. Royal College of Medicine has further information on correct use of PPE
  4. If you work in both hospital and aged care facilities, disclose this to both employers
  5. Chronic Conditions, anyone with chronic disease, concession card, under 16 and classified as vulnerable need to be bulk billed
  6. Face to face appointments – you as the treating therapist and patient must both be WELL. Consider if appointments can be done face to face as the Initial, and then move to Telehealth as appropriate
  7. Telehealth privacy, make sure services safe, privacy and security is maintained. Must follow Privacy Act requirements. Australian Privacy Principles, Federal Privacy Legislation and Jurisdictional Privacy Regulations 
COVID-19 Webinar Update for Allied Health Professionals Thursday 2 April 2020

Webinar Link: https://publish.viostream.com/app/s-n3w95ri?utm_source=All+Members%2C+Associates%2C+Affiliates+and+Subscribers&utm_campaign=934144cb9c-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020-04-01_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_96e42de7dd-934144cb9c-427188297 

Notes taken from webinar update: 

  1. Flu vaccine will be rolled out steadily starting now and is important for health workers to get vaccinated. Best to ring ahead to make sure there is one available and make an appointment. Usualwork places such as hospitals may or may not be offering it to their staff, so best to check. Its free for pregnant women, > 65 years, 6 months – 6 years and anyone with a chronic disease 
  2. Telehealth for AHP’s for patients eligible through Medicare (such as EPC patients) is Bulk Bill only at the moment, BUT they are working on changing that as soon as possible in recognition of the small amount payable for services, as it’s a complex process involving change of legislation etc. They say they will be making changes over the next few days hopefully. 
  3. Private Health Insurance – they will be talking to them today to rebate on telehealth and will have it on their website soon
  4. Older / at risk employees in Healthcare( > 60 + and immune suppressed etc ) – should not work face to face but work via Telehealth if possible 
  5. Reiterated Allied Health is an ESSENTIAL SERVICE
  6. Face to face appointments – you as the treating therapist and patient must both be WELL. Consider if appointments can be done face to face as the Initial, and then move to Telehealth as appropriate
  7. Student placements – nurses and doctors are going ahead with some restrictions – currently working with Deans of Universities on this. Suggest you contact the relevant University to find out about plans for placements for OT students
  8. Mental Healthimportant,  continue to provide as an essential service 
Access to Remote Areas

On Thursday 26 March 2020, movement into certain remote areas is being restricted to protect community members from the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

State and Territories have nominated areas in consultation with Indigenous communities. Those who wish to enter the nominated areas will need to self-isolate for 14 days before they can enter. This is consistent with the current health advice.

Exemptions to the restrictions will apply for people entering to supply and deliver essential services, provided they have no signs or symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Information relevant to Indigenous communities is being posted on www.niaa.gov.au and www.indigenous.gov.au

World Federation of Occupational Therapists’ (WFOT) position on the use of telehealth for the delivery of occupational therapy services.

https://wfot.org/resources/telehealth 

Occupational therapy services provided via telehealth should meet the same standards of care as services delivered in-person and comply with all jurisdictional, institutional, and professional regulations and policies governing the practice of occupational therapy. 

  

Covid-19 National Health Plan - Primary Care - Bulk Billed MBS Telehealth Services
Expansion of telehealth

A joint media release with Dr Tony Bartone, Australian Medical Association President; President Dr Harry Nespolon, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners; and Michael Kidd AM, Principal Medical Advisor, Department of Health 23rd March 2020.

https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/expansion-of-telehealth-services

MBS Online Update 6th April 2020

From 6 April 2020, it is a legislative requirement that the new telehealth services must be bulk billed for Commonwealth concession card holders, children under 16 years old and patients who are more vulnerable to COVID-19. Health providers may apply their usual billing practices to the telehealth items for patients who do not fit the above criteria. Providers are expected to obtain informed financial consent from patients prior to providing the service; providing details regarding their fees, including any out-of-pocket costs.

Updates to MBS Care Plans for Chronic Disease Management (which includes OT services- our usual code is the 10958 for the EPC  Medicare Rebate, there are also OT services that relate to paediatrics, eating disorders, mental health etc) to include Telehealth Consultations. There are new codes for those specifically and at this stage it is until 30th September 2020. 

It does specify that all services must be ‘bulk-billed’ which means payments are claimed and made direct to the provider (and needs to be at the consent of the patient), and NO additional charge can be made to the patient. There are other rules that apply, so please check relevant information pages and links to see how this applies to your practice. 

MBS Fact Sheet

COVID-19 Bulk-billed MBS telehealth Services – Allied Health 310320 

http://www.mbsonline.gov.au/internet/mbsonline/publishing.nsf/Content/news-2020-03-29-latest-news-March 

Allied Health CDM services (all 13 items)  10950, 10951, 10952, 10953, 10954, 10956, 10958, 10960, 10962, 10964, 10966, 10968, 10970