Include patients’ perspectives in permanent telehealth decisions now
A consumer-led consultation project by HCSW’s COVID-19 Consumer Leaders Taskforce
In 2021, we released a new report, Navigating Telehealth: – the patients’ perspective and an accompanying background report, calling on decision-makers to include patients, families and carers in discussions and decisions about permanent telehealth services in Australia.
Facilitated by us, the Navigating Telehealth reports were researched and written by NSW health consumer leaders. The reports share patients’ perspectives on telehealth services following the increased reliance on phone and video consultations during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In November 2020, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that telehealth would become a permanent fixture of Australia’s healthcare system. In mid-March 2021, the federal government confirmed that it would continue temporary support for telehealth services until 30 June 2021, while planning the permanent post-pandemic telehealth arrangements with peak doctor groups.
Noticeably missing from that announcement was engagement with patients and their families and carers, to ensure their perspectives are considered in the planning of permanent telehealth services in Australia.
“There is no doubt that for countless health consumers, gaining easier access to telehealth over the past year has been a tremendous boost. However, there are also many lessons to be learned from people who report poor or mixed experiences,” our Executive Director, Dr Anthony Brown, said.
“Our report highlights how critically important the consumer voice is in the design and implementation of the telehealth system moving forward. Patients must have a permanent seat at the table with system administrators and clinicians.”