Telehealth and Video-consultations

Telehealth and Video-consultations

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to be a major health issue to all. Minimising contact with others appears to be a vital measure in controlling spread and new cases. Facilitating consultations via video or teleconference is a vital step in adhering to isolation guidelines whilst providing care to patients.

 

Which patients MUST have a Telehealth consultation?

From RACGP website – racgp.org.au/coronavirus#update16
A suspected case is currently defined in the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) National Guidelines for Public Health Units as meeting the criteria in any of the three categories below:

  • A – If the patient satisfies epidemiological and clinical criteria
    Epidemiological criteria:
    International travel in the 14 days before illness onset

    • OR Close contact in 14 days before illness onset with a confirmed case of COVID-19
      (a close contact is defined as requiring EITHER greater than 15 minutes face-to-face contact in any setting with a confirmed case in the period extending from 24 hours before onset of symptoms in the confirmed case, OR sharing of a closed space with a confirmed case for a prolonged period (e.g. more than 2 hours) in the period extending from 24 hours before onset of symptoms in the confirmed case. Further information is available in the National Guidelines for Public Health Units)
    • AND Clinical criteria:
      Fever (≥ 38C*) or history of fever (e.g. night sweats, chills)
    • OR Acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath, cough,sore throat) with or without fever
  • B – If the patient has severe bilateral community-acquired pneumonia (critically ill*) and no other cause is identified, with or without recent international travel, they are classified as a suspect case.
    *requiring care in ICU/HDU, or for patients in which ICU care is not appropriate, respiratory or multiorgan failure. Clinical judgement should be exercised considering the likelihood of COVID-19.
  • C – If any healthcare worker with direct patient contact has a fever (≥38C*) AND an acute respiratory infection (e.g. shortness of breath, cough, sore throat), they are classified as a suspect case
    *It is recommended that temperature is measured using a tympanic, oral or other thermometer proven to consistently and accurately represent core body temperature.
  • Who is eligible for the Medicare rebate for Telehealth consultations?

    Please refer to Medicare website

    A vulnerable/isolated patient is:

    1. a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 virus but who is not a patient of a hospital; or
    2. a person has been required to isolate themselves in quarantine in accordance with home isolation guidance issued by Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC)*; or
    3. a person who is considered more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus being a person who is:
      • a. at least 70 years old; or
      • b. at least 50 years old and is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent; or
      • c. is pregnant; or
      • d. is a parent of a child under 12 months; or
      • e. is already under treatment for chronic health conditions or is immune compromised; or
    4. a person who meets the current national triage protocol criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection.
      * Department of Health (https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert)
      You must self-isolate if any of the following applies to you:

      • you have COVID-19
      • you have been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19
      • you arrived in Australia after midnight on 15 March 2020

    Which patients need to come into the office to be seen?

    Patients who need clinical examination or minor procedures such as stent removals, removal of IDCs or need education from the doctor or nursing staff will need to come in to the office.

    If the patient meets any of the above criteria, they will NOT be able to attend for a ‘in-person’ consultation and the case needs to be discussed with the doctor.

    How will the consultations be carried out?

    Consultations will be conducted using either video-conferencing facilities or via a phone call for those who are unable to participate in a video-call.

    What equipment or software do patients need to have a video-consult?

    Option 1
    As a preference, Dr Goolam uses the software platform “Zoom” to carry out his video-consultations. This software allows for high quality* teleconferencing whilst providing the option for both parties to share information (e.g. CT scans, operation images, pathology results, etc.).

    The software is available via the Apple App store or Google Play store for free (search for “Zoom cloud meetings”).
    * Quality of video is dependent on internet bandwith, device hardware and software settings.

     
    The Zoom platform is also available on Apple iOS and Android tablet devices.

    When using Zoom on a computer (Apple or PC), you may choose to access the software via your web browser or by installing the application onto your computer.

    Option 2
    Dr Goolam may also conduct video-consultations with other video-conferencing software. This is often the case if patients do not have access to the Zoom software. There are some limitations to other platforms and this option may not always be available for your consultation.

    How do patients participate in a video-consultation?

    Option 1 – Zoom users
    Patients will receive either a text or email from Dr Goolam’s office with the instructions on how to initiate the consultation.

    On a mobile device, once the embedded ‘link’ is clicked on, the Zoom software will open and the patient will be asked to ‘enter their name’ and ’join the meeting’.

    On a computer, once the embedded ‘link’ in the email is clicked on, the patient will be redirected to their browser window where they will be given the option to ‘enter their name’ and ’join the meeting’.

    Option 2 – Non-Zoom users
    Patients will receive a text on their mobile phone from ‘GPconsults’ explaining that they have been invited to the video-consultation.

    Once clicking on the link, patients will be taken to their web browser and will await the consultation to start. It is important to connect ahead of your allocated appointment time so that Dr Goolam can initiate the video-consultation in a timely manner.