Australian private practice metropolitan telepsychiatry during the COVID-19 pandemic: analysis of Quarter-2, 2020 usage of new MBS-telehealth item psychiatrist services

Jeffrey C.L. Looi, Stephen Allison, Tarun Bastiampillai, William Pring, Rebecca Reay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Objective: The Australian Commonwealth Government introduced new psychiatrist Medicare-Benefits-Schedule (MBS)-telehealth items in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic to assist with previously office-based psychiatric practice. We investigate private psychiatrists’ uptake of (1) video- and telephone-telehealth consultations for Quarter-2 (April–June) of 2020 and (2) total telehealth and face-to-face consultations in Quarter-2, 2020 in comparison to Quarter-2, 2019 for Australia. Methods: MBS item service data were extracted for COVID-19-psychiatrist-video- and telephone-telehealth item numbers and compared with a baseline of the Quarter-2, 2019 (April–June 2019) of face-to-face consultations for the whole of Australia. Results: Combined telehealth and face-to-face psychiatry consultations rose during the first wave of the pandemic in Quarter-2, 2020 by 14% compared to Quarter-2, 2019 and telehealth was approximately half of this total. Face-to-face consultations in 2020 comprised only 56% of the comparative Quarter-2, 2019 consultations. Most telehealth provision was by telephone for short consultations of ⩽15–30 min. Video consultations comprised 38% of the total telehealth provision (for new patient assessments and longer consultations). Conclusions: There has been a flexible, rapid response to patient demand by private psychiatrists using the new COVID-19-MBS-telehealth items for Quarter-2, 2020, and in the context of decreased face-to-face consultations, ongoing telehealth is essential.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-188
Number of pages6
JournalAustralasian Psychiatry
Volume29
Issue number2
Early online date6 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • private practice
  • psychiatrist
  • telehealth
  • telepsychiatry

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