Information for Patients

Isn’t it helpful that there is now technology available that enables Doctors and Patients to connect with each other from different states, regions, houses, and offices and without hours of travel? I am glad that I am now able to offer my patients the chance to see me conveniently from their home or GP office. If you have not participated in a Telehealth consultation before you will understandably have some questions about how this all works. I hope that you find the below information helpful, and if you have further questions please do not hesitate to contact my office. There are contact details on the Contact Us page of this website.

Why am I having a Telehealth appointment with Dr Kirkman?

You are most likely seeing me on advice and ‘referral’ from your GP. I am a Doctor, and a Specialist so that means I graduated from Medical school and then ‘specialised’ (i.e. I did lots more study and training) in Psychiatry. I can diagnose and treat mental illness and prescribe and monitor the effects of medications. Psychiatry deals with a wide range of mental disorders, including but not limited to – sleep, mood, addiction, relationships, trauma.

What can I expect?

If you have not seen me before then our first appointment will be approximately 1 hour long. That gives us time to talk about your personal history and current issues. You can attend the appointment alone or with a support person. Your GP may attend some of the appointment and its important that I am able to give instructions to your GP in regards to further care for you and possible medications. If you are participating from home, we can discuss what your medical supports are, and how I can prescribe medication for you if this is needed.

I may ask to see you again for a review appointment(s) to see how things are going, these subsequent appointments usually last 15 minutes.

How is a Telehealth appointment conducted?

Telehealth appointments are videoconferenced consultations. Patients sit in front of a computer at home or their GP Office and a software program (Skype the most common but some clinics use other technology) links your computer to mine. You will see me on the screen and you will see and hear me in real time. It is obviously not the same as a face-to-face appointment but I think that is because it saves travel (and for some remotely located patients the travel is significant), provides an opportunity to involve your GP and usually can happen without a long waiting period, it is a very valuable alternative.

How can I make an appointment with Dr Kirkman?

You can contact my office directly via the details provided on the Contact Us page. If you will be participating in the consultation from your GP office then the GP office staff may contact my office and make a time on your behalf. If you are linking to me directly from your home then you are able to register on my booking site (www.gp2u.com.au) and book an available appointment. (You must be able to input an up to date referral for this option).

Can I see Dr Kirkman face-to-face?

I am now concentrating on my Telehealth practice so I don’t have the usual rooms (what specialists call their surgery or office). I can see patients via videoconference link to their home computer or GP clinic.

How much will an appointment cost?

I am able to ‘bulk bill’ a Telehealth consultation (i.e. bill Medicare directly on your behalf with no out of pocket cost to you) if you live in a Telehealth eligible area. Eligibility information is below. If you are not located in a Telehealth eligible area then I am able to privately bill for my services, and you may be eligible for some Medicare rebate. Please contact my office for further details.

Am I eligible for Telehealth?

If you have a Medicare or DVA card you can use Telehealth, however you are only eligible for a Medicare rebate for the cost of a Telehealth consultation with me if our locations are at least 15 km away and you live, work, or are holidaying outside of a capital city (Tasmania is excluded from this – all of Tasmania is eligible – but the 15km rule still applies).

Telehealth eligibility is determined according to the Australian Standard Geographical Classification Remoteness Area (ASGC-RA) classifications. Medicare benefits are available for services provided to patients outside of RA1 – Major Cities. You can identify if you are eligible by looking at the map here http://www.doctorconnect.gov.au/internet/otd/publishing.nsf/Content/Locator

The location criteria does not affect residents of Aged Care Facilities or patients of eligible Aboriginal Medical Services or eligible Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services who are eligible for the medicate rebate and /or bulk billing regardless of location.

What do I need to do as a patient?

One of the most important things is to attend your scheduled appointment. At certain times there are patients who are waiting some weeks for a consultation so it is very unfair to others if you ‘hold’ an appointment slot and then don’t attend. A Telehealth appointment does take some arranging by office staff and may involve the booking of GP time, my time and possibly a room booking in a GP office or Health Centre – so it is very important that if you can’t attend you let my office or your GP Practice know as soon as possible. Regular non-attendance at scheduled appointments may mean that I won’t offer you further appointments.

What if I need an emergency appointment?

If there is space available in my diary, as well as at the GP office location (if using) then an appointment can be arranged at short notice. I make myself available for Telehealth bookings on Mondays/Tuesdays and Wednesdays but outside of these days I am unavailable and sometimes unable to be contacted due to my other commitments. If you are experiencing acute psychological distress it is best to contact your nearest Hospital Emergency Department or the Mental Health Services Helpline in your region (TASMANIA Statewide) 1800 332 388 (24hrs).