Listen to Dr Silvia Pfeiffer on the Fear and Greed Podcast on 'How the CSIRO helped shape the future of telehealth' where she discusses how telehealth was already in use prior to Covid-19, how things took a giant leap forward during the pandemic, and what needs to happen now for virtual care to continue to have a positive impact on the Australian healthcare system.
Sean Alymer spoke to CEO and Co-Founder of Coviu, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer who emphasised that telehealth has been around a lot longer than the pandemic and continues to be integral to our healthcare system in the post-pandemic era. In a country as geographically diverse as Australia, many people had been living in remote areas with limited healthcare access for a long time. This lack of health access, combined with a drive to ameliorate healthcare through emerging video technology, inspired Coviu's now hugely successful virtual care platform.
Silvia reflects on how a CSIRO project to develop a technology for better access to healthcare and government services became Coviu when the company spun out and commercialised in 2018. But it wasn't until the pandemic necessitated revised medicare reimbursements and increased public awareness of its benefits, that telehealth really took off. Silvia muses,
About a quarter of all GP consultations are now done via telehealth.
Dr Silvia Pfeiffer goes on to describe some of the things she has learned from Coviu's expansion into the US, emphasising more needs to be done for telehealth to continue to thrive in Australia. This includes more reimbursements for items such as remote patient monitoring, a revolutionary method of gathering self-reported medical data from patients in order for health practitioners to diagnose and treat symptoms before they escalate. She also brings the audience's attention to the need to reintroduce reimbursements for patient support services in order for General Practitioners to have full oversight over their patients' treatments.
Asked whether the government was doing enough to support the future of telehealth, Silvia stated,
I want to point out one particular decision, it's the so-called patient support service. And the patient support service means that the patient can sit with a GP, while they're meeting with their specialist in urban areas. It's particularly important for rural and remote areas where patients often don't have direct access to a specialist. And what's happening is that we continue to have reimbursements for the sessions, but not with the GP present. So now that the patient has to meet directly with the specialist, that means the GP actually loses out on understanding what's happening to this patient. We're taking away the ability for group care by having this interaction between the specialist and the GP, and getting a better quality of care for our patients. And I think that that was a really poor decision that the government made, probably in an effort to unify things, thinking it wouldn't be necessary anymore, because now patients can directly access the GPs and use specialists via telehealth.
Silvia also talks about how significant improvements in connectivity to rural and remote areas are aiding access to telehealth.
Tune in while Silvia educates listeners on how to take advantage of one of healthcare's greatest tools, virtual care, and what needs to be done to ensure virtual healthcare delivery is strengthened in Australia.
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