UPDATE 13 March 2020 - MBS Item Numbers - Coronavirus COVID-19
March 13, 2020
Information contained in this update is current as at 4:30pm Friday, 13 March 2020.
Testing requirement for COVID-19
New clinical advice from Queensland Health as of 5:00pm Friday, 13 March 2020
1. Full respiratory virus PCR testing should now only be requested in assessment of vulnerable immunocompromised patients. This should be explicitly stated on the request form.
2. COVID19 testing (including in healthcare workers) should only occur if they have:
- (a) fever OR respiratory symptoms AND
- travelled overseas within the previous 14 days, OR
- had recent close contact (previous 14 days) with a confirmed case of COVID-19
- (b) severe community-acquired pneumonia requiring admission with no other identifiable cause.
Patients who present with cold and flu-like symptoms, who do not meet the above criteria, should NOT be tested for COVID-19. Health care workers who do not meet the criteria for testing should remain at home until their symptoms resolve, at which point they can return to work.
Current advice from Queensland Health regarding testing criteria for patients remains as follows:
New MBS item numbers for telehealth consultations can now be claimed
The Australian Government Department of Health has published details of MBS items that are now able to be claimed, including bulk-billed video-conference consultation services for those at risk of COVID-19 infection or who have self-isolated and bulk-billed pathology services for SARS-COV-2 and respiratory tests.
We recommend you read and understand the new MBS legislation before using new MBS item numbers which can be viewed on the MBS Online Summary webpage. Questions can be directed to askMBS@health.gov.au
These item numbers will be available until 30 September 2020 unless they are revoked earlier.
- These new item numbers must be bulk-billed.
- The health professional must have the capacity to provide the full service through this means safely and in accordance with professional standards; and must be satisfied that it is clinically appropriate to provide the service to the patient.
- The vulnerable/isolated patients or the health professional must be at risk of COVID-19 as per the criteria outlined on the MBS Online Summary webpage.
- For vulnerable/isolated patients in group c in the criteria (considered to be more susceptible to the COVID-19) the rendering practitioner must have had at least one face to face attendance with the patient in the preceding 12 months.
- There are different groups of item numbers for telehealth consultations (video and audio) and telephone consultations (audio only). A telephone consultation can only be claimed if videoconferencing is not available. See full definition of telephone attendance and telehealth attendance in the new MBS legislation.
- There are different item numbers for General Practitioners and Other Medical Practitioners- see definition of Other Medical Practitioners
healthdirect Australia Video Call
Our PHN offers free access to the healthdirect Australia Video Call platform for GPs and health care providers to use in our region. The platform allows you to deliver care to your patients via video consultation. Benefits of the Video Call platform include:
- it's easy to use for consumers, web-based, requires no software download, uses low bandwidth and meets Medicare security requirements; and
- the PHN can set your practice up with login details and offer training.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and get connected.
General resources for clinicians
- Queensland Health webpage for clinicians
- Department of Health resources for clinicians webpage
- RACGP Website
- Brisbane South PHN has worked with RACGP QLD to develop some triage flowcharts for
receptionists and other practical resources for general practice
Darling Downs and West Moreton HealthPathways have been updated to include information about COVID-19.
Contacting your local Public Health Unit
GPs are asked to notify their relevant Public Health Units of 'suspect cases' of COVID-19.
- For Darling Downs Health, please use this DDH Public Health Unit Notification Form.
- For West Moreton Health, please use this WMH Public Health Unit Notification Form.
Please discuss any cases of concern with your local Public Health Unit immediately so that appropriate actions and testing can be organised.
- Darling Downs P 07 4699 8240 (business hours) P 07 3646 1699 (after hours)
- West Moreton P 07 3818 4700 (business hours) P 07 3176 2111 (after hours, ask for public health)