New telepsych clinic pilot to give Australians faster access to vital mental health services
Medibank has partnered with Myhealth and Medinet to increase access to vital mental health services, launching a telepsychology clinic pilot that aims to reduce wait times from up to 3 months to just 2 weeks.
Anyone over the age of 18 can access online psychology consultations by visiting one of the Myhealth GP clinics in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane participating in the pilot to get a referral, if deemed appropriate by the GP.
The telepsych clinic will provide virtual consultations and an innovative digital and phone concierge service to manage all aspects of the referral, booking and Medicare claims process along with feedback to the referring GP. Patients can also choose to see an accredited mental health social worker for specialist support.
“This pilot aims to give people greater access, choice and control when it comes to mental health care,” said Medibank’s Group Executive, CEO Health Services, Dr Andrew Wilson.
People are waiting months to be able to get access to mental health support in their local area, when they really need help now.
"We’re hoping to alleviate some of that pressure by giving access to more mental health professionals faster, provide GPs and their patients a greater choice of professionals with a broad range of specialities, and make it simpler and easier for people to manage the process.”
Research by the Australian Psychological Society this year shows wait times for psychologists have increased up to 3 months, with some people having to wait more than 6 months. Around 1 in 3 psychologists are now unable to see new clients, up from 1 in 5 in June 2021.†
The pilot incorporates a concierge service that guides a patient through the booking and Medicare claims process from beginning to end. It will first help patients to choose a professional, with people able to view the profiles and specialities of the psychologists to find the best fit for them.
Patients can utilise the concierge website and app to manage all referrals, payments, and Medicare claims, as well as booking, cancelling or rescheduling appointments.
“While many people are more open in talking with their GP about seeing a mental health professional, often this doesn’t translate into them taking the action required to do so once they have a referral, which is why Medinet and Medibank have developed a concierge service that aims to support people through every step,” said Myhealth Medical Group Deputy CEO, Dr Hadrian Lee.
“It also enables the GP to receive regular updates about their patient’s therapy that focuses on the patient’s goals and their progress in achieving those goals. In doing so, we’re aiming to facilitate a greater continuity of care for patients.”
How the telepsychology clinic works
More than 94% of psychologists in Australia have adopted telehealth during the pandemic, and psychological treatment provided using video conferencing has been shown to be as effective as a face-to-face appointment for a variety of mental health concerns.**
Medibank has been an investor in the Myhealth Medical Group since February 2021 and in March announced our investment in health tech company Medinet to support the growing role of virtual health in Australia.
At the conclusion of the trial, the pilot will be assessed on how well it has met the needs of patients, GPs and mental health professionals.
“There is a critical need for more mental health services, especially in regional and rural Australia where access is even more difficult. We want to change that, so even more people across the country can benefit from better access to the care they need,” said Dr Andrew Wilson.
“Based on the outcomes of the pilot, we’ll look to expand both the reach and the types of health services we can offer virtually – such as dietetics, speech pathology or physiotherapy.”