Register      Login
Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association

Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Advisory Committee post-implementation review of MBS telehealth items: abolition of initial telehealth consultations for non-general practitioner specialists

Jeffrey C. L. Looi A B * , Stephen Allison B C , Tarun Bastiampillai B C D , Steve Kisely B E F and William Pring G H
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Academic Unit of Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, The Australian National University School of Medicine and Psychology, Canberra Hospital, Building 4, Level 2, PO Box 11, Garran, Canberra, ACT 2605, Australia.

B Consortium of Australian-Academic Psychiatrists for Independent Policy and Research Analysis (CAPIPRA), Canberra, ACT, Australia.

C College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA, Australia.

D Department of Psychiatry, Monash University, Wellington Road, Clayton, Vic., Australia.

E School of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Ipswich Road, Woolloongabba, Brisbane, Qld, Australia.

F Departments of Psychiatry, Community Health and Epidemiology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada.

G Delmont Private Hospital, Glen Iris, Vic., Australia.

H Department of Psychiatry, Monash University, Clayton, Vic., Australia.

* Correspondence to:

Australian Health Review 48(1) 34-36
Submitted: 7 November 2023  Accepted: 5 January 2024  Published: 22 January 2024

© 2024 The Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Published by CSIRO Publishing on behalf of AHHA.


In 2022, the Australian Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care commissioned the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) Review Advisory Committee (MRAC) to conduct a post-implementation review of MBS telehealth services, including settings of video and telephone consultations. The MRAC has made a series of administrative recommendations for telehealth practice that appear at cross-purposes to the evidence-base on medical consultations and that would limit patient access to medical specialist assessment in Australia. These recommendations particularly underestimate the role of telehealth in rural and remote Australia and did not take into account high patient satisfaction with telehealth assessment and treatment during the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. They also appear to contradict the Medical Board of Australia’s guidance on telehealth. On this basis, the recommendations for telehealth principles and abolition of reimbursement for telehealth for all initial non-general practitioner medical specialist consultations should be withdrawn.

Keywords: clinical pathways, e-health, health funding and financing, Medicare Benefits Schedule, quality and safety, rural and remote health, telehealth, urgent care.


MRAC. Telehealth Post-implementation Review. Canberra: MBS Review Advisory Committee, Department of Health and Ageing; 2023.

Medical Board of Australia. Telehealth consultations with patients. 2023. Available at [accessed 30 October 2023].

Bradford NK, Caffery LJ, Smith AC. Telehealth services in rural and remote Australia: a systematic review of models of care and factors influencing success and sustainability. Rural Remote Health 2016; 16: 4268.
| Crossref | Google Scholar |

Hincapie MA, Gallego JC, Gempeler A, et al. Implementation and Usefulness of Telemedicine During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Scoping Review. J Prim Care Community Health 2020; 11: 2150132720980612.
| Crossref | Google Scholar | PubMed |

Pogorzelska K, Chlabicz S. Patient Satisfaction with Telemedicine during the COVID-19 Pandemic-A Systematic Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2022; 19: 6113.
| Crossref | Google Scholar | PubMed |

Asiri A, AlBishi S, AlMadani W, et al. The Use of Telemedicine in Surgical Care: a Systematic Review. Acta Inform Med 2018; 26: 201-206.
| Crossref | Google Scholar | PubMed |

Reay RE, Looi JC, Keightley P. Telehealth mental health services during COVID-19: summary of evidence and clinical practice. Australas Psychiatry 2020; 28: 514-516.
| Crossref | Google Scholar | PubMed |

Rush KL, Howlett L, Munro A, et al. Videoconference compared to telephone in healthcare delivery: A systematic review. Int J Med Inform 2018; 118: 44-53.
| Crossref | Google Scholar | PubMed |

Parker RF, Figures EL, Paddison CA, et al. Inequalities in general practice remote consultations: a systematic review. BJGP Open 2021; 5: BJGPO.2021.0040.
| Crossref | Google Scholar | PubMed |

10  Medical Board of Australia. Revised telehealth guidelines raise standards, protect patients. 2023. Available at [accessed 30 October 2023].