Bulk billing a telehealth video consultation

Patients who have a telehealth video consultation with a specialist have the option to assign their right to a Medicare benefit to the specialist through an email agreement.

Specialists, consultant physicians and consultant psychiatrists

Even though you and the patient are not at the same location during a telehealth video consultation, the patient's signature is still needed on the General, Specialist and Diagnostic (assignment of benefit) Voucher form under section 20A of the Health Insurance Act 1973.

There are 3 ways you can obtain the patient's signature:

  1. the supporting practitioner can ask the patient to sign the General, Specialist and Diagnostic (assignment of benefit) Voucher form (DB4) at their end and send the form to you
  2. you can send the completed General, Specialist and Diagnostic (assignment of benefit) Voucher form (DB4) to the patient to sign and return to you
  3. you can get an email agreement from the patient

Email agreement

For a patient to assign their right to a Medicare benefit to you by email, you need to complete the following process.

Due to privacy reasons, the Medicare card number and Provider number must not be included in the email.

Step 1

At the time of the telehealth video consultation, tell the patient you wish to bulk bill Medicare for the service, and they will need to:

  • agree to the service being bulk billed
  • check the details in the email sent to their nominated email address, and
  • reply to your email, which will be considered a signature agreeing to assign the benefit

Step 2

Before submitting the claim, you need to send an email to the patient that includes:

  • the details of the service:
    • item numbers or a description of the services
    • benefit amount for both the base and derived fee items
    • date and time of the services
    • patient's name (Medicare card number must not be included)
    • practitioner's name (provider number must not be included), and
  • the following statement:
    If you (the patient) agree to the assignment of the Medicare benefit directly to the provider (bulk bill), reply to this email including:
    • the word 'YES' in the body of the reply email, and
    • your (the patient's) name
  • the following privacy note:
    Your personal information is protected by law, including the Privacy Act 1988, and is collected by the Australian Government Department of Human Services for the assessment and administration of payments and services. This information is required to process your application or claim. Your information may be used by the department or given to other parties for the purposes of research, investigation or where you have agreed or it is required or authorised by law. You can get more information about the way in which the department will manage your personal information, including our privacy policy or by requesting a copy from the department

Step 3

Once you have received a reply email from the patient with the correct information:

  • complete a General, Specialist and Diagnostic (assignment of benefit) Voucher form (DB4)
    • for manually submitted claims note 'email agreement' in the signature block
    • for electronic claims, the email signature does not need to be noted, but you must keep the patient's email consent on file
  • submit the claim to us in accordance with the MBS
  • send a completed copy of the General, Specialist and Diagnostic (assignment of benefit) Voucher form (DB4) to the patient, and
  • keep the email with the patient's consent and email signature, in hard copy or electronic form for audit purposes for at least 2 years

When you note 'email agreement' on the manual General, Specialist and Diagnostic (assignment of benefit) Voucher form (DB4), you are acknowledging that you have followed steps 1-3 above.

This process has been developed to comply with section 10 of the Electronic Transactions Act 1999, which outlines the steps to be taken for an electronic signature to be recognised. It also meets the legislative requirement of a signature being needed to assign a Medicare benefit.

Example email

Dear Mr Jones (patient)

Details of the telehealth consultation to be claimed with Medicare:

Item number: 104 Benefit amount: $71.35

Item number: 99 Benefit amount: $35.00

Date and time of consultation: 01.01.2015 10:30 am

Patient name: Peter Jones

Provider name: Jane Smith

Agreement

If you (the patient) agree to the assignment of the Medicare benefit directly to the provider (bulk bill), reply to this email including:

  • the word 'YES' in the body of the reply email
  • your (the patient's) name

Regards
Dr Jane Smith

Privacy note: Your personal information is protected by law, including the Privacy Act 1988, and is collected by the Australian Government Department of Human Services for the assessment and administration of payments and services. This information is required to process your application or claim. Your information may be used by the department or given to other parties for the purposes of research, investigation or where you have agreed or it is required or authorised by law. You can get more information about the way in which the Department of Human Services will manage your personal information, including our privacy policy or by requesting a copy from the department.

Page last updated: 25 October 2016

This information was printed Saturday 10 December 2016 from humanservices.gov.au/health-professionals/enablers/bulk-billing-telehealth-video-consultation It may not include all of the relevant information on this topic. Please consider any relevant site notices at humanservices.gov.au/siteinformation when using this material.