Women living in rural, regional and outer metropolitan areas will benefit from a new government initiative that gives people greater access to online video consultations with medical specialists from 1 July this year.
The program, telehealth, provides medical specialists with new Medicare rebates for online video consultations with patients living outside major cities, encouraging them to offer more of these services to those patients for whom it is clinically appropriate.
For women with breast cancer, this means video consultations may be able to replace some face to face appointments, allowing women to avoid travelling to a major centre for these appointments.
Video consultations can be done from a woman's own home, if her specialist thinks it is appropriate. However, it is more likely that these consultations will be done from a local medical facility, where a GP or other health professional, such as Breast Care Nurse, can sit in on the consultation.
In addition to breast cancer specialists, women can access video consultations with other specialists, including psychiatrists and consulting physicians.
If a video consultation is suggested by a specialist, women may still choose a face to face consultation instead. There is no obligation to accept a video consultation.
Women will be eligible for Medicare rebates for video consultations. It should be noted that women may receive two invoices for a video consultation - one from the specialist and one from the health professional who provided the service and sat in on the consultation. Medicare rebates are available for both services.
BCNA has welcomed this initiative which will provide women with greater flexibility and choice in their breast cancer treatment.