Telehealth has transformed the way people in Australia have engaged with primary care. Telephone and video consultations have become more common, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and changing technology. It is important to understand the impact of wide-scale Medicare-funded telehealth on access to care and the quality of care patients receive, particularly among at-risk people and medically-underserved populations.
This project includes both quantitative and qualitative components. The quantitative component uses large-scale linked data available through the Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP) and the qualitative component engages clinicians and consumers through interviews and workshops. The project aims to address the following research questions:
- Has primary health care uptake and quality, as measured by indicators of accessibility, continuity, appropriateness and coordination, changed over time concerning whole-of-population Medicare Benefits Schedule telehealth initiatives, factoring in the COVID-19 context?
- How do these outcomes vary according to patient characteristics, particularly concerning those that identify as at-risk or underserved populations, based on age, socioeconomic circumstances and health status?
- How do consumers and clinicians experience and manage safety in telehealth consultations?
- What is the value accorded to consumers of different elements of telehealth quality i.e. safety, accessibility, continuity and acceptability, and under what circumstances do trade-offs occur?
The project is funded by the Medical Research Future Fund. MRFF Grant #2006309—Optimising primary health care in Australia: multi-method whole-of-population investigation of the impact of telehealth on uptake and quality of care.
The Telehealth in Primary Care research project is overseen by a Steering Committee, led by Professor Rosemary Korda and Professor Christine Phillips, comprising of:
- Dr Dawn Casey—Deputy Chief Executive Officer, National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation
- Professor Patricia Davidson—Vice-Chancellor and President, University of Wollongong
- Professor Michael Kidd—Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care
- Professor Sarah Larkins—Health Systems Strengthening, James Cook University
- Mr Paul McBride—First Assistant Secretary, Benefits Integrity, Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care
- Mr Daniel Weber—Digital Health Policy Advisor, Consumers Health Forum of Australia