Who can do online consultations?
Online consultations aren't suitable for everyone. Your psychiatrist will agree to do one only if it's a good fit for you and your health needs.
Sometimes a face-to-face consultation is needed, for example to do physical check-ups or to prescribe some medications.
In some cases, you might have a mix of face-to-face and online consultations with your psychiatrist.
What do I need?
If you do the online consultation at a hospital or clinic, they will provide everything for you.
If you do the online consultation at home, you will need to have:
- a quiet, private room
- a fast, reliable internet connection
- a computer, tablet or smartphone (your psychiatrist will tell you which devices will work with their software).
As a guide, you will need internet speeds of at least 0.8 Mbps (megabits per second) for downloads and 0.25 Mbps for uploads. Faster speeds will give you better quality video. You can test your internet speed here.
If you use a computer, it must have a microphone and a webcam. Most newer computers will have these built in.
Your psychiatrist will give you instructions about how to download the video conference software. You won't need to buy any software.
How do I arrange an online consultation?
Usually, you will need a referral from a GP to see a psychiatrist either in person or online.
Speak to your GP or health service about seeing a psychiatrist online.
The RANZCP’s Find a Psychiatrist directory lists Australian psychiatrists with a private practice who offer online consultations. The directory will be expanded to include New Zealand in the future.
To use the search, enter a location, then click on Advanced Search, then under Practice Details, select Offers telepsychiatry.
How much does it cost?
If you see a psychiatrist online through a public hospital or public health service, you generally won’t have to pay.
If you see a psychiatrist privately, ask about fees before your first appointment. Some psychiatrists will bulk bill (so you don't need to pay anything), but for others you may pay an out-of-pocket fee (the part of the fee that Medicare doesn't cover).
You can usually only get a Medicare refund for the consultation if you:
- live outside a major city (see the Department of Health's remoteness area map for what counts as a major city), and
- are more than 15 km from the psychiatrist, and
- are not currently staying in hospital.
If you live in an aged care facility or are a client of an Aboriginal medical service, you can get a Medicare refund no matter where you live.
Read more about the cost of seeing a psychiatrist in Australia
If you see a psychiatrist online through a public hospital or community health service, you generally won't have to pay.
If you see a psychiatrist privately, there will generally be a fee. Ask about fees before your first appointment.
If you have private health insurance, check whether the visit is covered.
Tips for successful consultations