The Australian Government has rushed to include Medicare, bulk billed online physio consultations as well as health insurance coverage for telehealth treatments.
Research shows that anxiety and pain share the same biological pathways. That means along with Coronavirus, a tsunami of pain might be on the way in our communities. We talked to physiotherapist Paul Trevethan, who has been doing online treatments for a number of years. “Our outcomes are comparable to in-clinic care and we think it’s because the focus of pain relief is on the patient. We empower, the patient takes control and they get better. Research backs that up as well”.
As of the 30th of March, the Government announced swift changes to telehealth to avoid overburdening the hospital system. These include:
Access to health fund rebates for telephysio commencing April 14th until September 30th 2020
To qualify, patients must have been a client of the physio during the last six months OR have a doctor’s referral for specific conditions. These include: post operative care, (e.g. hip surgery), chronic musculoskeletal conditions, heart rehabilitation, lung rehabilitation or pelvic floor issues.
Bulk billed access to e-physio
From the 13th of March the government has been adding telehealth services to support Australians during the Coronavirus pandemic. As of the 31st of March, this has now expanded to include physio over the net.
These appointments are bulk billed through the MBS (Medical Benefits Scheme). They aim to support people with a chronic health condition. Patients must be referred by a doctor under a ‘Chronic Disease Management Plan”. The program usually involves up to 5 treatments in a calendar year.
Online Physio is most commonly delivered as a low cost package. In this way, even people without access to these health care rebates and Medicare support options, it still makes economic sense. Programs are designed to support during the painful, initial injury phase by replicating hands on in a way that empowers the patient with skills. It follows them through to recovery and includes self management strategies to prevent symptoms coming back long term.
National President of the Australian Physiotherapy Association, Phil Calvert said, “Physio telehealth has been used in a variety of settings for some time. It is safe, it is effective and it is the right thing to do to reduce infection rates in our communities”.
The reality is that many people are now forced to deal with their own pain during this stressful COVID 19 time. On one hand, in clinic physio care now comes with an element of risk and on the other, no-one can let pain progress to needing emergency room care or hospital support. Online options make sense and the government has moved quickly.
ABOUT BL PHYSIO
Established in 2001, BL Physio is a physiotherapy practice focused on empowering everyday clients to ease pain and optimise quality of life. They do this by teaching patients ‘athlete level’ skills to help themselves long term. BL Physio looks after a range of clientele, from podium athletes at Kona through to the Australian Ultra Running team.
As part of their corporate arm, ‘Work Injury Free’, they have been doing online physio consultations for years in addition to their injury prevention training. They service large providers in food manufacturing, construction as well as power industries.
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