Greatly increased Victorian outpatient private psychiatric care during the COVID-19 pandemic: new MBS-telehealth-item and face-to-face psychiatrist office-based services from April–September 2020

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: The Australian Federal government introduced new COVID-19-Psychiatrist-Medicare-Benefits-Schedule (MBS) telehealth-items to assist with providing private specialist care. We investigate private psychiatrists’ uptake of telehealth, and face-to-face consultations for April–September 2020 for the state of Victoria, which experienced two consecutive waves of COVID-19. We compare these to the same 6 months in 2019. Method: MBS-item-consultation data were extracted for video, telephone and face-to-face consultations with a psychiatrist for April–September 2020 and compared to face-to-face consultations in the same period of 2019 Victoria-wide, and for all of Australia. Results: Total Victorian psychiatry consultations (telehealth and face-to-face) rose by 19% in April–September 2020 compared to 2019, with telehealth comprising 73% of this total. Victoria’s increase in total psychiatry consultations was 5% higher than the all-Australian increase. Face-to-face consultations in April–September 2020 were only 46% of the comparative 2019 consultations. Consultations of less than 15 min duration (87% telephone and 13% video) tripled in April–September 2020, compared to the same period last year. Video consultations comprised 41% of total telehealth provision: these were used mainly for new patient assessments and longer consultations. Conclusions: During the pandemic, Victorian private psychiatrists used COVID-19-MBS-telehealth-items to substantially increase the number of total patient care consultations for 2020 compared to 2019.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalAustralasian Psychiatry
Early online date13 Apr 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Apr 2021

Keywords

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

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