Whilst Australian states continues to flatten the COVID-19 curve and yield the rewards cultivated from months of augmented vaccination efforts, many continue to resonate from the aftershock of stringent lockdown measures.
These same measures implemented to protect the physical wellbeing of Australians have also harmed their mental and emotional welfare. A double-edged sword, enforcements including self-isolation, physical distancing and quarantine have resulted in an inflation of loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress.
Figures produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics report that loneliness was cited as a prominent source of stress in approximately 30% of women and 16% of men. Whilst the pre-COVID-19 ‘normal’ continues to elude the day-to-day functioning of many Australian lives, despite the ease in restrictions and conclusion of arduous lockdowns, there is no forecast for post-COVID 19 currently.
The Australian Government has committed to the provision of $12.25 million in support of facilitating accessibility to mental health assistance, providing additional resources and assistance for those in isolation, regionally diverse and young Australians.
With sustained progression towards working from home and remote communication becoming an ingrained norm, so too is seeking mental health assistance via digital platforms. Gone are the days where in-person consultations were the primary form of care.
Accessibility to assistance through technological innovation, regardless of location and the constraints of time, are now rapidly evolving in response to increased demand.
Telehealth has experienced significant growth, where face-to-face consultations were an unavailable or non-feasible option for those in isolation, following lockdown orders, or were uncomfortable venturing to a health care provider. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated that of all mental health consultations, half are now conducted via telehealth.
With 1 in 6 Australians above the age of 18 utilising telehealth services, and half of these calls replacing in-person consultations, the health service landscape has evidently changed in response to volatile pandemic conditions.
From these consultations, 49% of people reported the intention to access telehealth services in future. It was also reported that telephone and digital appointments conducted via platforms including Zoom and Microsoft Teams were comparable to in-person visitations.
However, the transition to telehealth was not one that was accepted seamlessly by all patients. Some expressed disdain with the shift, citing that the reduction of face-to-face consultations and the increased risk associated with venturing beyond designated LGA’s to visit their health providers required a forced adaption to the model.
The COVID-19 pandemic has required the ongoing evolution in the deliverance of patient care. With the prominence of telehealth usage and the unison between clinician and patient satisfaction with the model, providers are now urged to reconsider how services are provided in a cost effective, timely and accessible manner compared to tradition in-person consultations.
These changes then reflect in the changing needs of staffing and talent utilisation within health organisations. Technological advances require increased comfort and ability utilising digital platforms, ability to process cloud based systems, work with digital appointment software and scheduling of online appointments and consultations. Even todays medical receptionist, requires additional skills and expertise in this brave new world.
Important Note: These articles have been prepared for general circulation and are circulated for general informational purposes only; these articles should not be regarded as business or investment advice. The articles represent the views of the writers and are subject to change without notice. Additionally, while every care has been taken in the preparation of the articles no representation or warranty as to accuracy or completeness of any statement is given. An individual or organisation should, before any business or investment decision is made, consider the appropriateness of the information in this document, and seek professional advice, having regard to objectives, situation and needs. This document is solely for the use of the party to whom it is provided.