What is a surgical video consultation?
A consultation conducted by video conference between you and your surgeon at a distant location.
What are the advantages of surgical video consultations?
Every patient’s situation is different but in general the benefits of this service are:
• better access to specialist hand surgery care
• reduced waiting time to see your specialist hand surgeon
• reduced travel time and costs
• reduced absence from work.
How can I have a video consultation with my surgeon?
To have a video consultation with your surgeon, you must be referred by your GP and the doctors must consider it safe and suitable for you.
Why do I need to be referred by my GP?
You need to be referred by your GP to be eligible for a Medicare benefit.
Do I have to participate in a video consultation?
No - it is only for patients who wish to have a video consultation, and for those patients whose GP and surgeon consider it appropriate to have a video consultation.
Where are the video consultations provided?
Video consultations are generally arranged at your GP's practice.
What if I need to cancel my appointment?
Video consultations require coordination between you, your GP and your surgeon, so please try to keep your video consultation appointment. If you need to cancel, please let the doctors know immediately, because rescheduling video consultations is more complicated than rescheduling a face-to-face appointment.
How should I prepare for a video consultation appointment?
You can help get the best from a video consultation by following these simple steps:
• arrive at least 15 minutes early to allow for preparation time with your up-to-date X-rays
• avoid wearing brightly patterned or reflective clothing as this may not show up well on camera
• switch your mobile off or to silent mode
• speak clearly so your voice can be picked up by the microphone
• look at the camera so you can achieve good eye contact with the specialist
• if you have a question or need help during the video consultation, just ask.
What happens at the video consultation appointment?
You, your GP (or nurse practitioner) and your hand surgeon will be on a TV/video or computer screen at each end of the video consultation.
At the start of the consultation everyone will introduce themselves and the reason for the consultation will be explained. You will be asked some identifying questions such as your name, address, and date of birth to make sure the right patient, right doctors and right health records are present. The surgeon will speak with you and ask you questions in the same way as they would at a face-to-face consultation. For certain conditions your X-rays and photos of your wounds are very important.
Who will be present?
Apart from you, your GP (or nurse practitioner) and the surgeon, nobody else can be present unless you agree to this in advance. It is your choice whether you agree to have other parties present.
As with a face-to-face appointment, your spouse, partner, family or friend may accompany you if you wish.
What if I want to have a private discussion with my specialist?
You may ask your GP (or nurse practitioner) to step out of the video consultation at any time if you wish to have a private discussion with the surgeon and they will do so provided they think your safety is not at risk.
How private is the video consultation?
The same privacy and confidentiality requirements that apply to face-to-face consultations apply to video consultations.
What if I need to be examined?
The surgeon may ask your GP to examine you on their behalf. One of the limitations of surgical video consultations is that the surgeon cannot examine you personally. Where your condition is straightforward this is unlikely to affect your diagnosis or treatment. If your condition is not straightforward you may be advised that a face-to-face examination is necessary to assist in your diagnosis or treatment. In many plastic surgical conditions it is necessary for you to be examined by the surgeon to determine what treatment options are best for you. In such instances telemedicine is useful for post operative follow-up but cannot substitute for a face-to-face preoperative consultation.
Will the video consultation be recorded?
No. Our practice does not record video consultations and we do not give patients permission to make their own recordings of a video consultation. If your surgeon or your GP thinks it would be helpful for your treatment to record particular images during your video consultation, they would first seek your written permission to do so and they would ask you to repeat your consent on camera.
How much will it cost?
Generally you will receive two bills for the video consultation – one from your GP and one for the surgeon. You may be required to pay out-of-pocket for both doctors.
Am I eligible for a Medicare rebate?
Medicare rebates for video consultations are available to patients from remote and regiona areas as well as patients of residential aged care facilities or Aboriginal medical services anywhere in Australia. If you fall into one of these patient categories and are privately billed, you will be eligible for a Medicare rebate.
What if I have questions?
If you have any medical questions about whether a video consultation may be suitable for you, please talk to your GP's practice or your surgeon.
Where can I get more general information about video consultations?
For more information about patient eligibility and payments
Contact Medicare Australia
Phone: 1800 222 032
This information was adapted from a copyright publication © by The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), 2011 ("RACGP Template: Video consultation information for patients").
Permission was granted to general practices to adapt and reproduce the information contained in its publication in any medium.
"The information is intended for use as a guide of a general nature only and may or may not be relevant to particular patients or circumstances. Nor is this publication exhaustive of the subject matter. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular circumstances when so doing. Compliance with any recommendations cannot of itself guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional and the premises from which the health professional operates."
"While the text is directed to health professionals possessing appropriate qualifications and skills in ascertaining and discharging their professional (including legal) duties, it is not to be regarded as clinical advice and, in particular, is no substitute for a full examination and consideration of medical history in reaching a diagnosis and treatment based on accepted clinical practices."
"Accordingly The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and its employees and agents shall have no liability (including without limitation liability by reason of negligence) to any users of the information contained in this publication for any loss or damage (consequential or otherwise), cost or expense incurred or arising by reason of any person using or relying on the information contained in this publication and whether caused by reason of any error, negligent act, omission or misrepresentation in the information."