Grey nomads could find a medical check-up is just a click away

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Telehealth could be here to stay and really help grey nomads
Telehealth could be here to stay

Dr John Hall, the President of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia, looks at how telehealth could prove a boon for grey nomads 

“Covid-19 has turned the world upside down – but (strangely) it has also led to some positive developments in health policy.

The expansion of telehealth is a great example. In the early stages of the pandemic, the Federal Government widened telehealth’s availability to the general public. It has proven itself to be a convenient tool in boosting access to healthcare. The current arrangement is flagged to end on September 30 – and while telehealth will continue after that in some form, we don’t know exactly how this will look.

The question many grey nomads are asking is – can telehealth assist me on my travels? It goes without saying that if you have complex medical needs requiring ongoing medical attention – or even if you are a younger nomad in your third trimester of pregnancy – please stay home. It is much better that you remain close to your usual medical team.

But if you’re healthy and ready to travel again, make it part of your pre-trip planning to see your regular GP a month or so before taking to the road. Many prescriptions are based on a time limit, so it is crucial to get your scripts reviewed by your GP before they expire.

We also recommend you get a full annual health check at the same time, and talk with your GP about uploading your patient information onto My Health Record. This will ensure local doctors and hospitals have access to your medical history if you have an accident or medical episode while travelling.

It is also a great idea to carry all your medical information (including a list of any health conditions, current medications, and your GP’s contact details) with you on your trip. At least until September 30 (and possibly thereafter), you may be able to access telehealth appointments with your regular GP (either by phone or video call) even while you are travelling. They may also be able to send you any new prescriptions electronically, or as an image via your phone or email, that you can then present to the local pharmacy. But keep in mind that some consults need to be face-to-face (your regular GP can advise you) – and not all pharmacies are set up to process e-scripts – so it is better to organise your prescription renewals before you hit the road.

If you find yourself out on the highway, however, and you’re in need of a consult for a non-urgent matter, try giving your regular general practice a call first – even if they are in another state.

Chances are they may be able to help you via telehealth, or – for something like physio or a mental health concern – put you in touch with an allied health professional who can do the same.

Click here for information on My Health Record.”

 

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