An Innovative New Service From Medibrain
Telepsychiatry - Online Psychiatry Consultations
Remote online mental health consultations with your psychiatrist is a relatively new service providing video based consultations for patients who are not able to come in to see their psychiatrist.
Telepsychiatry has proven to be a very successful treatment tool for people living in remote or rural areas, or those that find it difficult to come into the clinic for treatment.
Everyone can now receive high quality treatment for their mental health condition conveniently, wherever they are located.
Psychiatry is very reliant on visual contact when providing therapy for mental health conditions. Now that video conferencing is commonly available on computers, tablets and smart phones it has become possible to successfully treat patients without requiring them to be physically present at the clinic.
How Does An Online Consultation Work ?
It’s very simple really.
Once you have the necessary technology, the patient and therapist connect via a secure encrypted video communications package, each end with a camera and microphone and the therapist conducts the consultation in the same way as they would if both patient and therapist were together in the same room.
Should a carer need to be present at the same time, the patient simply ensures that their camera is positioned to capture both the patient and their carer.
It is not uncommon for a patients’ doctor to be present during a consultation and some doctors even provide access to videoconferencing equipment for patients who do not have suitable access to internet services or equipment.
An appointment time is made, much like scheduling a visit and the therapist ‘dials’ the patient at the arranged time. The patient accepts the call and once the images and sound are functioning, the consultation begins.
Prescriptions are prepared by the therapist and sent to the patient by secure email.
The consultation is paid for by credit / debit card and an invoice is sent to the patient by secure email, which they can use for their Medicare claim.
Does Medicare Cover Online Consultations ?
Medicare eligibility criteria for benefits are provided here for your information.
- You must live outside a major city.
Find out what the Department of Health considers a major city here
- You must live at least 15km away from your therapist.
- You must not be currently staying in a hospital.
If you live in an Aged Care Facility or use an Aboriginal Health Service you are entitled to a Medicare rebate irrespective of where you live.
There are no restrictions for online consulting if you do not need Medicare.
Video conferencing works on computers, tablets and smart phones and requires both a camera and a microphone. Most laptops, tablets and smart phones come fully equipped but if you have a desktop computer you may need an external camera and microphone if you do not already have one.
In order to make it as easy as possible for everyone to access online mental health services Medibrain use Skype as the preferred software because it is both secure and cost effective.
Skype is a free application that provides secure encrypted online communications and is the most widely used software that works on all technology platforms and operating systems.
It is also very easy to setup and use.
Download Skype for free here
If you are new to Skype you can watch a YouTube video here to learn more.
Once you have the equipment ready the only other thing that is required is an internet connection.
It is important that your internet service is fast enough to allow video conference services to operate smoothly and without disruptions. Most internet speeds these days are suitable but as a guide we recommend at least the following internet speeds.
- Downloads: 0.8 megabits per second (mbs)
- Uploades: 0.3 megabits per second (mbs)
You can test your internet speed by clicking here
There are many YouTube instructional video to guide you though setting up Skype on your operating system, computer, tablet or smart phone.
Preparing For An Online Consultation
Getting ready for an online consultation will require a few steps in preparation to guarantee that the session is successful.
- Once you have decided that you would like to arrange an online consultation with Medibrain, we will send you an email to confirm the process and get your approval to communicate with you using Skype.
- When confirmation is received we will send you instructions and if necessary we can conduct a test run to ensure connectivity is set up appropriately.
Our instructions will include some simple guidelines to make your consultation as effective as possible.
Here are some simple things to remember when participating in an online consultation.
- If you are using a mobile device make sure that it is fully charged and that it is plugged into a power supply during the consultation.
- During the course of the online consultation make sure other devices are switched off or on silent mode. If you are using your computer or tablet make sure your phone will not interrupt the consultation.
- Only use a smart phone as the last option for the consultation because depending on your phone settings, incoming phone calls may interrupt the consultation.
- Make sure your internet is not being used for other services that can affect internet speed. Eg. Streaming movies, uploading/downloading large files, playing games etc. This can cause breaks in video conference quality.
- If you have children pre-arrange care for them for the duration of the consultation.
- Try to make sure the room where you are sitting is well lit but make sure there is no strong source of light behind you such as a sunlit window. It may make it difficult to see your face.
- Make sure you are in a quiet room. TV / Radio will make it hard to hear you speak.
- Sometimes there is a delay in audio/video over the internet. Please wait until the therapist stops talking before you start.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What does it cost for an online consultation ?
Our standard fees apply for online consultation. Please see our fees in the FAQ section.
Does Medicare provide benefits for online psychiatry ?
To be eligible for a Medicare rebate you need to:
- Live outside a major city
- Live at least 15km away from your psychiatrist
- Not currently be in a hospital
You are entitled to Medicare benefits if you live in an Aged Care facility or are a client of Aboriginal Health services. These eligibility criteria do not apply to you.
What are the benefits of online psychiatry ?
- Online consulting with a psychiatrist is sometimes the quickest way to get expert mental health advice.
- You can arrange for your doctor or carer to be present when speaking to a psychiatrist online.
- You can choose your preferred therapist.
- Online consulting saves you on travel time and can be arranged at a convenient time.
Is online psychiatry private and secure ?
Online consultations use Skype where all communications are encrypted on both ends to maximise security and privacy. We do not record the consultations but we do keep written notes just as we would in a face-to-face consultation.
What about prescriptions ?
Should the therapist feel you need medications he will discuss that with you. Prescriptions, if needed, are provided by secure email.
What type of consultation can be conducted online ?
Only very experienced psychiatrists use online psychiatry as a therapeutic tool and one of the key criteria for using online psychiatry is for the therapist to determine that this is a suitable treatment model.
Having said that, all types of therapy can be facilitated online, including diagnosis and assessment, medication review and management, and individual therapy.
Our therapist will determine if there is a specific requirement for face-to-face treatment, or diagnostic testing that requires your presence and you will be advised of that requirement.
Do I need a referral for online psychiatry ?
A referral from your doctor is required if you are going to claim a Medicare benefit for your online consultation. No referral is required if you are not seeking a Medicare rebate. If you require help with getting a referral from a GP, please contact us and we will guide you to what is required.
How do I make a Medicare claim for online psychiatry ?
When we prepare for an online consultation we will send you an application and consent form where you will provide your relevant details to us. We will send you a certified invoice which you can submit to Medicare to make you claim.
You can find assistance for making online Medicare claims here.
Do you bulk-bill for your online psychiatry?
A limited number of bulk-billed appointments are made available by Medibrain for specific mental health programs. Bulk billing is assessed by the treating psychiatrist on a case by case basis.
Find out more about Online Psychiatry