A review of Medicare expenditure in Australia for psychiatric consultations delivered in person and via videoconference

J Telemed Telecare. 2012 Apr;18(3):169-71. doi: 10.1258/jtt.2012.SFT111. Epub 2012 Feb 23.


We examined the activity (services recorded) and cost (benefits paid) of reimbursement associated with telepsychiatry services in the Australian public health-care sector. We reviewed the activity and costs administered through the government's Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) from July 2002 to June 2011. During this nine-year-period, almost 14 million psychiatric consultations were funded through Medicare at a cost of $1.6 billion. Of these, 8003 were telepsychiatry consultations which cost $934,000, i.e. the video consultations subgroup represented 0.06% of all psychiatric consultations provided and 0.06% of the total cost to the government for these services. Despite telepsychiatry being a widely reported and successful example of telehealth internationally, the uptake of telepsychiatry in Australia has been slow.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Health Expenditures* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services / economics*
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • National Health Programs / economics*
  • National Health Programs / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychiatry / economics
  • Psychiatry / methods
  • Psychiatry / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Telemedicine / economics
  • Telemedicine / methods
  • Telemedicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Videoconferencing / economics*
  • Videoconferencing / statistics & numerical data