Telehealth Fertility Consultation
What is Telehealth?
'Telehealth' is a way of having a fertility consultation from anywhere in Queensland via the internet, where you can talk to and see Professor Bruce Dunphy by using a computer screen, camera and microphone. The aim of this service is to provide you with the best fertility care, without routinely having to travel too far from home. Telehealth can be very helpful to those people who live outside of metropolitan Brisbane and need highly specialised fertility care.
Telehealth is not meant to replace office visits for couples who live close to an appropriate Reproductive Endocrine and Infertility subspecialist. This service is designed to help couples who experience considerable difficulty in accessing expert care because of the distances involved in travelling for office visits and coordinating their busy schedules so that both partners are able to take part in the consultation.
What is the Certificate of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (CREI), and why use Telehealth?
Australia's National Infertility Network (Access) recommends that couples with infertility should make sure that they "see an infertility specialist with CREI qualifications". Subspecialists in Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility who hold the CREI are doctors who have qualified as a specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology (being awarded the FRANZCOG) and then elect to undertake an additional three years of subspecialty study to ensure that they are capable of offering comprehensive and expert care to patients who have reproductive endocrine disorders and infertility. They commit the majority of their clinical week to working in this area. There is a national selection process in order to qualify for entry into such subspecialty training, and on completion of training there is a rigorous examination process. Candidates who complete the training and pass the examination are then awarded the qualification of Certificate of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (CREI) by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
Professor Dunphy is one of only three gynaecologists in full-time practice in Queensland who hold the CREI. The consulting rooms of these three CREI subspecialists are all located within 15 km of each other in the southern part of metropolitan Brisbane. Couples may have to make a number of visits to their specialist in order to complete all of the necessary investigations, counseling about options and then undergo treatment. Furthermore, infertility investigations and management involve both the man and the woman and so appointments often require both partners to take time off work and travel long distances to be seen. This leaves many couples in Queensland who do not live in metropolitan Brisbane without easy access to the highest quality of expert fertility care.
The telehealth service is designed to minimize the number of trips required to access the highest quality of care. However, as will be described below, some office visits may be required in order to undergo examination and/or complete certain investigations (depending upon the detail and level of expertise of prior investigations and/or treatments).
What will a Telehealth Consultation cost me?
A considerable amount of work goes in to preparing in advance of the consultation including compiling all of the relevant information, reviewing your self-directed questionnaires and examining past medical records and reports of any surgical procedure(s) and/or treatment(s). Advantages of telehealth include that you will not have to incur the cost of travel, there may be less time off work and it is more likely that an appointment can be organised when both you and your partner can participate. Until June 30, 2011 the cost of telehealth consultations was not reimbursed by medicare or your private health fund. However, from July 1, 2011 there is a Medicare rebate for telehealth consultations. Any subsequent visit(s) that take place at Professor Dunphy's office will be eligible for the normal Medicare rebate(s).
How long will it take to get a Telehealth appointment?
Professor Dunphy has a process in place that assures that he has all of the necessary information available before he talks to you, and this process is summarized in a diagram attached to this document. This process is in place to ensure that Professsor Dunphy is best placed to answer your questions and give you an opinion about your option(s). The length of time that it takes to get an appointment will depend upon how long it takes to compile all of the information necessary for Professor Dunphy to have an overview of your situation. Rate limiting steps are how long it takes for your medical records to be released to Professor Dunphy after you have given your permission to other doctor(s)/hospital(s) for this to happen, and how long it takes for any further investigations that Professor Dunphy wants completed before he talks to you. In general, these steps can happen quickly and an appointment can be offered within a matter of days once Professor Dunphy has reviewed your information for completeness.
Our telehealth fact sheet and consent form can be downloaded from the bottom of this page.