Medibank says it has partnered with Myhealth and Medinet to launch a telepsychology clinic pilot that has the goal of reducing wait times for mental health services.
The company said the aim is to reduce wait times from up to three months to just two weeks.
It said 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 innovative digital and phone concierge services 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 CEO of 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.”
Recent research by the Australian Psychological Society shows wait times for psychologists have increased up to three months with some people having to wait more than six months.
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.”