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How a visit to the doctor will change in the post-coronavirus world

Health workers across the country have pivoted to phone and video consults during the coronavirus pandemic, and things may never return to the way they were prior to the outbreak.

President of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), Dr Harry Nespolon, said he “certainly hopes” telehealth will remain a big part of how GPs operate in future.

“If it’s a simple thing, a tele-consultation is probably much better than having to come in and wait an hour for your GP to see you to write you out a script or a referral,” he told 3AW’s Ross and John.

“Patients really do like the ability to work out how much they need to see the doctor.”

A RACGP survey of 1200 GPs found 99 per cent are offering telehealth services during the pandemic.

But Dr Nespolon said telehealth isn’t a replacement for a face-to-face consult for many issues.

“You still need to come in and see you doctor for about 60 per cent of your consultations,” he said.

Health Minister Greg Hunt is working on telehealth reforms to make it easier for doctors and other medical professionals to offer telehealth consults.

Meanwhile, a digital prescription service which will make it easier for doctors to write scripts and referrals without seeing patients face-to-face is expected to be released in the near future.

“The government is developing an e-prescription service which hopefully will be working in the next month or so, so we won’t have to do what we’re doing at the moment, which is to literally walk down scripts to the pharmacy or to fax them,” Dr Nespolon said.

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