Living in the country can mean managing family health with fewer medical resources nearby. Seeing a specialist might involve a long journey, travel and accommodation costs and taking time off work.
eHealth and telehealth use modern information and communication technology to improve health care access for people in remote areas.
Accessing telehealth services reduces your need to travel and can mean you have access to a specialist more quickly. It also means consultations are in a familiar environment and can reduce stress and disruption to your daily life.
A secure online summary of your health information, called ‘My Health Record’ — is now available. Having a My Health Record could lead to better communication between hospitals, specialists, your doctor and other health services, resulting in improved medical care for you and your family.
Telehealth means you have a virtual consultation with a doctor. It usually takes place by videoconferencing, such as Pregnancy, Birth and Baby's video call service. It is a secure and private conversation, just like seeing your doctor in person.
For a directory of specialists and services that provide telehealth consultations, visit the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine. This site also directs you to technical support.
Medicare rebates are available for telehealth specialist consultations to rural, regional and remote patients, Aboriginal Medical Services throughout Australia, and to any resident of an aged care facility. To qualify for these rebates, you and your specialist must be at least 15km apart.
Other rebates enable your doctor, nurse or Aboriginal Health Worker to participate alongside you during these appointments.
There are also Medicare rebates for telehealth consultations for mental health services for people in regional, rural and remote Australia through the Better Access Program.
After hours medical advice
If you have a health concern and you’re not sure what to do, you can phone healthdirect on 1800 022 222 at any time to speak to a registered nurse (known as NURSE-ON-CALL in Victoria). You can get health advice 24 hours a day.
Depending on the problem, you may be advised how to manage your symptoms until you can see your usual doctor or to go to your nearest health service. Go to healthdirect for more information.
Mental health issues are common, whether you live in the city or the country. But it can be harder to find help in the bush.
There are many ways you can get counselling by phone or online, anywhere in Australia.
- Beyond Blue: telephone and online counselling across Australia. Phone 1300 22 4636 or go to www.beyondblue.org.au
- eheadspace: phone and online counselling available for young people aged 12-25. Phone 1800 650 890 or visit www.eheadspace.org.au
- Kids Helpline: for children and young people aged 5-25. Phone 1800 55 1800 or visit www.kidshelp.com.au (24/7)
- The CRANAplus Bush Support Service is run by registered psychologists and provides counselling to remote health care workers and their families. Phone 1800 805 391
- Pregnancy, Birth and Baby for ongoing support and referral to services. Call 1800 882 436
- The National Rural Health Alliance website lists a range of services that provide counselling via telephone or online
- For urgent help, call emergency services on triple zero (000).
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Last reviewed: September 2021