Department of Health

Appendix 1: Virtual care strategy

The Core Principles are systematic and coordinated principles to guide virtual care prioritisation, validation, extension, and safe operation.

The Core Principles are systematic and coordinated principles to guide virtual care prioritisation, validation, extension, and safe operation.

1. Clinical governance

To ensure safety and efficacy of care. A strong organisational and clinical governance framework must be in place to help clinicians:

  • identify when virtual care is appropriate for patient consultation;
  • fulfil compliance obligations by regularly reviewing and reporting best practice principles; and
  • ensure that it does not deviate from existing clinical care standards (such as the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards), policies, guidelines and directives.

This is to enable high quality care, and sound decision making.

2. The safety and efficacy of virtual care must be confirmed and safeguarded

The replacement of in-person care should not promote low value care or worse health outcomes. Escalation triggers and protocols for deteriorating patients are part of each virtual care cohort and model.

3. Physiological assessment and monitoring

Where patient triage, assessment and diagnosis require physiological assessment and episodes of virtual care require physiological monitoring, appropriate and validated tools are used, patient and carer orientation are embedded and patient choice respected.

4. Standardised and secure service

Health services should implement virtual care service using ICT platforms that conform with health care standards, guidelines, and frameworks. Only authenticated patients and health service providers can use the service. ICT services and infrastructure must comply with Australian Signals Directorate requirements. Patient information and metadata are not managed offshore.

5. Complementary tool or value add

Virtual care substitutes or expands the health care patients can receive in their preferred location of care. Health services provide alternatives to virtual care if the patient preference is for face-to-face consultations, or if provision of services virtually is not the most appropriate method for health care delivery, particularly when considering complex and vulnerable patients.

6. ‘Patient first’

Support the patient to achieve the best possible health outcomes. Place the patient at the centre of this arrangement, not the technology, platform, or other potential players. Consumer representatives should be consulted in the development of virtual care services and care models should keep in mind digital equity for patients who may otherwise not be getting the care they need.

7. Workforce capability

Ensure that virtual care augments clinicians’ capacity and capability to provide high quality and safe care. Multidisciplinary teams need to be competent in virtual care provision to achieve better clinician experiences and patient outcomes in the health journey.

8. Service catchment and Interaction across the health system

It is important for health services to establish early:

  • how their virtual care models are provided (e.g., such as partnerships with trusted vendors) and;
  • the reach and scale of their virtual care service provision (e.g., part of a regional, state or national network).

On defining each virtual care model, health services apply existing standards to inform service and technology design, expectations for patient and provider conduct, and clinical workflows.

Reviewed 25 September 2023

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