The Federal Government’s rapid response to introduce telehealth measures during the
COVID-19 crisis was transformational, the Senate Select Committee on Financial
Technology and Regulatory Technology heard today.
In public hearings, Committee Chair, Senator Andrew Bragg, heard evidence that measures
introduced during the pandemic should now be made permanent features of Australia’s
health and Medicare system.
“There’s no doubt that by ramping up the delivery of telehealth and e-prescriptions we’ve
achieved many years of reform in a matter of weeks and months,” Senator Bragg said.
The Committee heard from the President of the Australian Medical Association, Dr. Tony
Bartone, and the head of the Rural Doctors Association of Australia, Ms. Peta Rutherford.
“Clearly, Australia’s top medical professionals believe video and phone consultations make
medical care more accessible and cheaper, and should be used to complement face to face
visits,” Senator Bragg said.
“Digital prescriptions are strongly supported by the profession because they are cheaper,
faster and eliminate the worry about losing a script.”
Senator Bragg noted an increase of 20% in electronic medical services during the pandemic
(March) which was embraced by General Practitioners and patients.
“It meant that doctors kept their doors open and kept staff at a critical time,” Senator Bragg
The hearing also heard Australians are more open to ideas like a Digital ID as people
become more comfortable with technology from a security and privacy perspective.
“Reluctance to Digital ID has lowered, and in particular younger people have become more
comfortable with sharing data knowing it makes it easier to transact generally and that it’s
easier to authenticate,” he said.
“This can only streamline all of our lives and reduce costs for all Australians.”
Senator Bragg also raised the prospect of using RegTech to simplify the complicated
Modern Award system which he said has been a disaster for small business.