Department of Health

Virtual care (Telehealth)

Virtual care (otherwise known as telehealth) refers to health care delivery, or related processes (such as education), where one or more of the participants are separated by distance, and information and communications technologies are used to overcome that distance.

Virtual care is a broad term which can include telehealth (telephone and video-enabled), telemedicine, tele-education, teletherapy, and telemonitoring.

Since 2016, the Victorian Government has encouraged health services to implement and upscale virtual care through project funding and provision of state-wide video consulting platforms.

Most public health services provide services via telehealth and have a telehealth coordinator.

Since COVID-19 virtual care/telehealth, has been rapidly adopted by Victorian health care providers in non-admitted and admitted acute, and primary care settings. Consumers and health care providers across all of Victoria have benefited from the increased flexibility and service choice made possible through virtual care.

When safe and clinically appropriate, virtual care can be a cost effective, real-time and convenient alternative to the more traditional face-to-face way of providing healthcare, professional advice and education.

It can help to remove some barriers currently experienced by health consumers and professionals, such as distance, time and cost.

Department of Health Telehealth Video Consulting Platform

Healthdirect Video Call is the preferred platform for virtual/telehealth care consulting for Victorian publicly funded Health Services (hospitals, community health services, maternal health services etc.). It provides a secure, reliable service that uses common smart devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablets, or computer) and is designed to complement clinical workflows that are familiar to providers and patients.

For health services who do not have access to the platform please contact the Department of Health (Victoria) at telehealth@health.vic.gov.au or Healthdirect.

Information about the platform functionality is available at the Healthdirect Video Call Resource Centre.

Resources

Virtual Care Resources

The Department of Health has prepared resources for health services and other interested stakeholders to support implementing virtual care into services.

Critical Success Factors: how to establish a successful telehealth serviceis a practical resource that highlights the key issues identified as essential to building a sustainable telehealth service.

Medico-legal aspects of telehealth services for Victorian public health services provides an overview of the laws that need to be considered when delivering or receiving medical advice using telehealth technologies. It covers elements including the duty of care, informed consent, privacy and data confidentiality and insurance and indemnification.

Victorian Department of Health (2021) Digital Health Standards and Guidelines: Applications Solution Guide

Safer Care Victoria

Safer Care Victoria (2020) Telehealth Decision Tool

Safer Care Victoria (2020) Credentialing and scope of clinical practice for senior medical practitioners policy

Allied Health and telehealth guidance, Safer Care Victoria

Reporting and Funding

Most activity in acute Victorian health services for admitted and non-admitted services delivered by virtual care is funded through existing funding models. The activity needs to be reported accurately to the Department of Health to ensure it is counted.  Information can be accessed from the following sources:

HDSS Bulletin Issue 229: 21 April 2020 - 229.8 VINAH Telehealth (video) reporting

HDSS Bulletin Issue 235: 10 July 2020 - 235.2 VINAH Telephone contacts reporting

Victorian Department of Health - Policy and funding guidelines for health services

MBS billing policy framework – Victorian public hospitals 

Medicare Benefits Schedule telehealth/telephone items

There are a range of Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items available for telehealth video and telephone consultations for specialists, GPs, mental health practitioners, midwives, allied health providers and nurse practitioners. These items numbers are available to all MBS eligible patients regardless of their location.

Refer to the Australian Government’s Department of Health MBS Online MBS Telehealth Services web page for more information.

Reviewed 06 March 2022

Health.vic

Contact details

For information and support about implementing telehealth models of care in Victorian public health services.

Telehealth information Department of Health

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