Registered health practitioners are playing a vital role in treating and containing the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This is an unprecedented situation and we know you are working hard to keep people safe in a demanding and fast-changing environment.
Ahpra and the National Boards have developed the following information which outlines our expectations of how registered health practitioners will use telehealth in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance is for all registered health practitioners.
The use of telehealth in your practice may be subject to additional requirements, for example, through funding arrangements or your employer. You are encouraged to seek advice from your professional association, insurer or your employer if you have further questions about the use of telehealth in your practice.
Telehealth is healthcare delivery or related activities that use any form of technology as an alternative to face-to-face consultations. It includes, but is not restricted to, videoconferencing, internet and telephone. It does not refer to the use of technology during a face-to-face consultation. Not all healthcare services are appropriate for telehealth.
All registered health practitioners can use telehealth as long as telehealth is safe and clinically appropriate for the health service being provided and suitable for the patient or client.
These FAQs outline what Ahpra and the National Boards expect of you as a registered health practitioner when providing health services using telehealth. It explains how the Boards’ regulatory guidance such as Codes of Conduct, applies to telehealth and where more information and resources are available.
Telehealth and technology based consultations are increasingly used to improve access to health services, especially in rural and remote areas. Health practitioners currently based overseas who want to keep providing services to their patients in Australia might consider using this technology to do so.
In terms of registration requirements and the National Board’s regulatory role, if you are registered with your profession’s National Board under the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme and are based overseas, Ahpra and the National Boards consider that you can still provide telehealth services to patients based in Australia. However, you should check with the regulatory authority for your profession in the jurisdiction you intend to practise and with Australian health services and funders such as Medicare in relation to any other requirement these bodies may have.
You are reminded that National Boards have the same expectations of registered health practitioners, regardless of whether they are providing a patient consult/patient service by telehealth or face-to-face. These expectations are outlined below.
The National Boards have the same expectations of practitioners using telehealth to provide patient consultations/patient services as they do when practitioners are delivering services face-to-face. When providing telehealth services, the National Boards still expect that:
The Code of conduct1 for a health profession is a key part of each National Board’s regulatory framework to protect the public and support the other objectives of the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).
Your profession’s Code of conduct defines the National Board’s expectations for practitioners’ professional conduct, including the importance of maintaining a high level of professional competence in order to provide the best healthcare. These codes are also intended to let the community know what they can expect from practitioners.
They provide guidance on the National Board’s expectations of what constitutes good practice and includes guidance about:
It is the Board’s expectation that this guidance would be applicable to practitioners providing telehealth services or traditional face-to-face services.
You have a professional responsibility to be familiar with your profession’s Code of conduct and apply it to your practice, including when using telehealth.
1Each National Board’s Code of conduct is available on the Board’s website, accessible via: www.ahpra.gov.au.
You can deliver safe, effective health services via telehealth by adhering to the same principles you apply when providing care during a face-to-face consultation. The list below is not exhaustive but is designed to provide you with some high-level guidance about what you should do to safely and effectively use telehealth.
Using telehealth to advise or treat patients/clients
At the beginning of a telehealth consultation
During a telehealth consultation
Ensure continuity of care
No specific equipment is required to provide telehealth services. Services can be provided through telephone and widely available video calling apps and software.
Free versions of applications (i.e. non-commercial versions) may not meet applicable laws for security and privacy. Practitioners must ensure that their chosen telecommunications solution meets their clinical requirements, their patient’s or client’s needs and satisfies privacy laws.
There is a range of information and resources about telehealth available. The list below is not intended to be exhaustive and the use of telehealth in your practice may be subject to additional requirements. You are encouraged to seek advice from your professional association, insurer or your employer if you have further questions about the use of telehealth in your practice.
Information for nurses and midwives
Information for pharmacists
Information for physiotherapists
This guidance is designed to support practitioners to use telehealth in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be reviewed and updated as required during this time.
Last reviewed: 27 July 2020