UPDATE 30 March - Coronavirus COVID-19
March 30, 2020
Whole of population telehealth now available
On 29 March 2020, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health, announced: Whole of population telehealth for patients, general practice, primary care and other medical services to support the response to COVID-19. Find the full item descriptor(s) and information on other changes to the MBS on the MBS online summary webpage.
> All Medicare eligible Australians can now access services via telehealth where it is safe and clinically appropriate to do so.
> The new temporary MBS telehealth items must be bulk billed and are for non-admitted patients.
> The bulk billing incentive Medicare fees will double for items relating to general practice, diagnostic imaging and pathology services.
> Medicare rebates paid for the new GP and medical practitioner telehealth services are at the same level as the rebates paid for the equivalent face-to-face services.
> General Practice telehealth/telephone item numbers now available for :
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments
- Chronic disease management plans and reviews
- Mental health including mental health care plans and reviews
- Eating disorder management
- Pregnancy support
- Autism management
- Urgent after hours unsociable
> For more information and a list of the new MBS items, please read the COVID-19 Bulk Billed MBS Telehealth Services - GPs and Other Medical Practitioners factsheet and other relevant factsheets here.
> Find the full item descriptor(s) and information on other changes to the MBS on the MBS online summary webpage.
> Please email AskMBS@health.gov.au if you have a query relating to the COVID-19 telehealth MBS items.
CDNA Guidelines updated to include advice for 'suspect cases'
The CDNA COVID-19 Guideline was updated on 26 March 2020 to include advice for ‘probable cases’ throughout the document. View the CDNA Guidelines here.
Guidance for GPs performing eye examinations
A position statement providing practical guidance to clinicians when performing eye examinations during the COVID-19 pandemic has been released by RANZCO. Endorsed by the RACGP, the statement offers general and specific advice, including:
- avoid routine tonometry, and do NOT use puff tonometry
- avoid direct ophthalmoscopy if possible
If close-up examination is required, wear a face mask.
Guidance for pregnant women
The Statewide Maternity and Neonatal Network in conjunction with Queensland Clinical Guidelines released the following:
> COVID-19 Clinical guideline: Perinatal care with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in pregnant women - please note changes to criteria for oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) in pregnancy on page 12
> Parent information: COVID-19 in pregnancy
> Parent information: COVID-19 and breastfeeding
> COVID-19 Guideline supplement: Perinatal care with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in pregnant women
> COVID-19 Operational framework for maternity and neonatal services
Please visit the Clinical Guidelines website for more information.
Additional surgical and N95 masks now available
The Australian Government Department of Health is making additional surgical and N95 masks available to general practice/ACCHS and pharmacy in response to COVID-19. Masks will be distributed in accordance with the Distribution of PPE through PHNs: Tranche 2 guidance.
Before requesting surgical masks please consider:
> Is there a local supply available commercially?
> Does your practice have a population which is more likely to have been exposed to the novel coronavirus?
> Does your practice have an unusual number of patients presenting with respiratory symptoms?
These masks are for use by GPs who are specifically willing and able to undertake specimen collection in their practice as per the Department of Health advice.
> the physical layout of your practice and whether it is suitable for isolation of patients presenting as a suspect case (including any post testing requirements);
> whether you have access to all the appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), not just masks; and
> your confidence in infection control procedures across your whole practice.
Please note there are several pathology collection centres across the Darling Downs and West Moreton region who can collect specimens for testing.
If you have an identified need for surgical or N95 masks at your practice, please contact our Primary Care Liaison team via email firstname.lastname@example.org Please include the quantity of masks that you would like to receive for consideration.
- We are currently processing all of the requests in accordance with the Department of Health guidelines.
- Once processed, we will be distributing masks via courier only.
- Due to the heavy demand on the courier services, can we please ask that you order your masks before you are completely out of stock.
- Courier delivery can take between 1-3 days for local delivery from Springfield (possibly longer for rural areas) due to the current environment.