Hints and Tips For Health Consumers
Telehealth allows health care providers, patients, and carers to access and manage care virtually using technology. Telehealth consultations are conducted under the same guidelines as a normal face-to-face appointment and are just a different way to connect with your health care provider.
This page has resources to help health consumers or carers prepare for a telehealth appointment, including responses to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) from health consumers. The resources that focus on video consultations also apply to telephone consultations.
How do I prepare for a telehealth call from my doctor or health provider?
In any telehealth consultation, your provider aims to maintain your privacy and safety. It’s important that you make sure you have a quiet and private environment in which you can talk to your health care provider.
Before the telephone or video consultation, make a list of things you want to discuss with your doctor or allied health professional.
If you are expecting to get medication prescriptions, have the name, address, phone, and fax numbers of your preferred pharmacy handy.
What happens during and after the consultation?
Your health care provider will talk to you about your health condition and how this might be treated. Before your consultation ends, discuss with your health care provider how any medication prescriptions will be filled, or if any test (blood or imaging) is ordered, who you should contact to find out about those tests. Your doctor will fax or electronically transfer the medication prescriptions to you or your pharmacy and/or submit orders of tests to your pathology and diagnostic services.
Follow-up of telehealth consultations occurs in the same way as a normal face-to-face consultation.
How do I decide whether to have a telephone or video consultation?
Your health care provider may decide that a conversation over the telephone is sufficient to meet your health care needs. If not, a video consultation may be required.
It is important that you have sufficient internet speed to attend a video consultation. For video conferencing you will need a minimum upload speed of 1-4 Mbps, but ideally, you should have at least 5 Mbps upload and 15 Mbps download speeds. If you are unable to access the internet on the day, call your health professional’s office to make alternative arrangements.
Are telehealth consultations confidential?
Just like seeing your health care provider in person, telephone or video consultations are subject to the same privacy regulations. If you are in WA, SA, ACT, NSW, and Tasmania, it is not lawful to secretly record a private conversation to which you are a party. If there is any reason why your consultation should be recorded, you should have the permission of your health care provider before starting the recording.
How to prepare for telehealth? (more resources)
Cancer Council Australia. How to prepare for telehealth
Network coverage and internet speed
Read with interest
Expansion of pharmaceutical benefits scheme continued dispensing arrangements Covid-19. PBS (updated 31 March 2020)
Webinar: COVID-19 Telehealth in Primary Care (8 May 2020 12-1 pm). Consumers Health Forum of Australia
Other discussions or opinions
eSafety Commissioner. Key issues. Australian Government
When can I use telehealth and when should I physically visit my GP? The Conversation. (1 April 2020)
Telehealth, valuable, affordable & life savings for patients. Health Consumers’ Council. (7 Nov 2016)