Telehealth items


A telehealth option for First Nations health checks was introduced in March 2020 in response to COVID-19, with the aim to protect patients and health care providers.

Initially, both videoconference and telephone items were made available. From 1 July 2021, telephone items were discontinued.

Previous reporting showed telehealth activity and face-to-face activity separately. However, due to the relatively low use of telehealth items in 2021–‍22, data by telehealth status are only presented in this section at the national level. Monthly data are shown rather than annual data, to demonstrate the sharp decline in telehealth use over the time-series.

See Indigenous-specific health checks during the COVID-19 pandemic (AIHW 2023) for more information.

Between March 2020 and December 2022:

  • Use of telehealth items peaked in April 2020 –­ the first full month after their introduction. In April 2020, 4,000 health checks were conducted via telehealth, amounting to one-quarter (25%) of total health checks in that month.
  • By June 2020, the proportion of health checks conducted via telehealth was under 10%. The proportion stayed under 5% from February 2021, then remained under 2% from April 2022 to the end of the time-series.
  • Among telehealth services, health checks were most frequently conducted via telephone from March 2020 to June 2021, outnumbering videoconference services by a factor of 10 in most months.
  • From July 2021, telephone items were removed as a telehealth option. The number of videoconference services delivered per month peaked at 600 in September 2021 and dropped to 192 by December 2022.
  • In January 2022, total health checks delivered per month dropped to a low point of 10,600 services, at the same time as COVID-19 cases surged during Australia’s first Omicron wave.

Figure 16: Use of First Nations health checks, by telehealth status, by month, January 2020 to December 2022

A set of interactive graphs over 2 tabs. Refer to tables HC17 and HC18 in data tables. A long description is available below.


AIHW (2023) Indigenous-specific health checks during the COVID-19 pandemic, AIHW, Australian Government, accessed 10 August 2023.