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eHealth support for rural families

4-minute read

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.

eHealth record

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 support

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

Depending on your location, after-hours health services may be available if you need healthcare outside of the normal operating hours of your regular general practice.

After-hours health services are for people who need medical assistance but don’t need a hospital emergency department.

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.

Mental health

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
  • eheadspace: phone and online counselling available for young people aged 12-25. Phone 1800 650 890 or visit
  • Kids Helpline: for children and young people aged 5-25. Phone 1800 55 1800 or visit (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).

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2021

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Need more information?

Telehealth by RFDSWA | Royal Flying Doctor Service

our telehealth services span across the 2.5million kilometres of Western Australia

Read more on Royal Flying Doctor Service website

Flying Doctor telehealth | Royal Flying Doctor Service

The Royal Flying Doctor Service provides thousands of people in the bush with telehealth services for primary health service provision.

Read more on Royal Flying Doctor Service website

Health services for rural families

Learn more about rural health services such as the Patient Assisted Travel scheme, telehealth, access to hospitals, pregnancy and childbirth care.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Telehealth: children & teens | Raising Children Network

Telehealth is when you have health appointments by phone or video. Telehealth has many benefits for families. It’s secure and protects privacy.

Read more on website

Telehealth: children with additional needs | Raising Children Network

Telehealth can be great for therapy for children with disability, autism and additional needs. You can get telehealth therapy through your child’s NDIS plan.

Read more on website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

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