Medicare telehealth items should be made permanent beyond the coronavirus pandemic period, a parliamentary committee says.
A cross-party committee looking at the future use of technology said in an interim report tabled on Wednesday that telehealth had been very successful as a means of increasing patient choice and control over their health services.
The service was especially important for rural and regional areas.
"It is important that any permanent changes in this area do not result in a diminishing of the availability of face-to-face GP services," the report said, in recommending the extension.
"(As well) patients who wish to access health services in person should be enabled to do so wherever possible."
As well, the committee called for the fast-tracking of work on electronic prescriptions.
"The Australian government (should) ensure an open and accessible market for ePrescription services," the report said.
"The committee considers that this implementation should continue to be rolled out as quickly as possible.
"As with telehealth services, it is important that the rollout of ePrescriptions is an enabler of patient choice and convenience, and does not result in reduced services available in-person at pharmacies."
The ability to consult a pharmacist in person when necessary should also be maintained, it said.
The two services were among a number of coronavirus-driven innovations which the committee said should become "the new normal".
Other activities which should be encouraged by law or regulation change included enabling electronic company meetings and communications and allowing for electronic signing and witnessing of legal documents.
"We have the brains. We have the skills. All we need to do is unlock our technology prowess by breaking down some old-fashioned barriers," Liberal senator and committee chair Andrew Bragg said.
Australian Associated Press