Phone consultations with GPs skyrocket from zero to more than 138,000 per week during Covid-19

Press/Media: Research


“The widespread uptake of telehealth services provides clear justification for long-term support from the MBS to help cover the cost of patients consulting a GP by phone or video,” said lead researcher Professor Andrew Georgiou.

Telehealth services support people to limit unnecessary travel, reducing the risk of community transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious conditions such as influenza. Telehealth is also convenient for people in rural and remote regions.

Video consultations also rose but were less popular than phone consultations perhaps pointing to a shortfall in the available technology or technical knowledge required. In Victoria 2,540 video consultations were conducted per week during 2020, compared to 38 per week on 2019. In NSW the figure was 805 per week in 2020 compared to 4 per week the previous year.

The study covers nearly 30% of the Australian population, including urban and rural/remote regions from approximately 800 general practices. The participating Primary Health Networks (PHNs) included two urban (Eastern Melbourne and South Eastern Melbourne) and a predominantly rural (Gippsland) PHN from Victoria, and in NSW, Central and Eastern Sydney (urban) and South Western Sydney (incorporating rural areas Wingello to Bundanoon) PHNs.

This project is based on a collaborative relationship involving the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre, Macquarie University, Outcome Health, Gippsland, Eastern Melbourne and South Eastern Melbourne PHNs, and the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia Quality Assurance Programs, with participation from Central and Eastern Sydney and South Western Sydney PHNs.


General practice and telehealth during COVID-19.

Period14 Dec 2020

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