Utilisation of oral and maxillofacial specialist telehealth services during covid-19 in Australia: A trending analysis

Chipampe Masongo, Jun Chih, Judith Daire, Mohamed Estai, Dieter Gebauer, Leon Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives:
To investigate the trends in the use of MBS (Medicare Benefits Schedule) specialist telehealth services by patients and their potential implications for oral and maxillofacial surgery.

Methods:
A retrospective evaluation of deidentifed Medicare Benefits Schedule data from Services Australia of claims made under specialist telehealth services (video conference and telephone) from May 2020 to May 2022, a billing method used by oral and maxillofacial surgeons was obtained. The uptake of each specialist telehealth service item was reported across Australian states and territories by gender and age groups. Descriptive statistics were used to compare uptake among groups, and the most and least number of claims were identified.

Results:
Over 2.5 million services were billed under specialist telehealth items from the MBS. Video conferencing usage was five times greater than telephone telehealth services during the study period of 2020 to 2022. Across all telehealth items, Victoria had the highest uptake, whereas
the Northern Territory had the lowest uptake per capita. Females were 18% more likely than males to undergo a specialist telehealth consultation. Video conferencing consultations were more popular with those aged 55 to 74, with 30% of claims fled under these items, while telephone consultations were more popular with those aged 35 to 54, with 39% of claims reported for the items. The subsequent telehealth services were utilised twofold over the initial telehealth services.

Conclusion:
The trends in specialist telehealth services uptake for oral and maxillofacial surgery demonstrate a clear demand for such services post-COVID pandemic. Hence, providing practice guidelines, educational materials, and training tailored to the needs of specific populations has the potential to enhance both the patient and provider experience of using telehealth.
Original languageEnglish
Article number19
Pages (from-to)159-168
Number of pages10
JournalAustralasian Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery (AJOMS)
Volume1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2024

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