GPs are reminded of resources and MBS Items to assist patients to access oral antiviral treatments after a recent infection of COVID-19.
MBS Item 93716 allows for a Level C equivalent phone attendance by a GP lasting at least 20 minutes for the assessment and management of a person with COVID‑19 infection of recent onset. The telephone consult Items is to be used for the purposes of determining the patient’s eligibility for receiving a COVID-19 oral antiviral treatment. The extension of Item 93716 was brought about by advocacy from the medical community, especially the AMA. Item 93716 restarted on Tuesday 19 July and is expected to continue until 31 October 2022.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has also released a new resource to help GPs assess eligibility for COVID-19 antiviral treatments. The “prescribing workflow” guidelines provide information for GPs on carrying out assessments so that patients can have quick access to the potentially lifesaving treatments if they subsequently test positive to the virus. The guidelines cover the use of Molnupiravir, which is sold as Lagevrio, and nirmatrelvir plus ritonavir, branded as Paxlovid, both of which are now listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
The suitability assessment can be carried out using existing Medicare Benefits Schedule items for general attendances, and the guidelines also include details of telehealth phone consultation items lasting more than 20 minutes, which were introduced to help GPs and other medical practitioners to assess eligibility for the medicines. The resource also highlights that those who test positive to COVID-19 are exempt from the existing relationship rule, meaning they do not need to have seen the GP performing the assessment in-person within the past 12 months to access telehealth consultations.
You can access the full guidelines here.