Telehealth Medicare Billings and Signature Requirements

Doctors and practice managers in Australia face a challenge with Telehealth Medicare billings. In the evolving healthcare landscape, telemedicine is vital, but collecting signatures for telephone consultations is a problem.

The Issue

The main problem is the lack of a standard way to get patient signatures during phone consultations. In-person visits are simpler – you can sign physically or electronically. The most common recommendation is email, but not everyone uses email regularly. This gap led to a review of signature requirements, especially for Medicare billings in Telehealth.

The Basic Rule

Medicare rules are clear: patients must sign or consent electronically to assign their benefit to the doctor. It could be a written signature, an electronic button press, or email consent. But what if none of these options work?


There are exemptions for such cases. In Telehealth, if the “patient is unable to sign” and “verbal consent obtained,” it’s exempt. But many GPs misunderstand this – noting exemptions in records alone isn’t enough.

Proper Documentation

To stay compliant, accurately note “patient is unable to sign” and “verbal consent obtained” in the billing form’s designated sections in your practice’s software. Most software includes these sections. Proper documentation is vital to avoid issues later.

A Practical Tip

While exemptions offer flexibility, be cautious. Use them only when other consent methods are genuinely unavailable. Overusing them might attract Medicare investigators’ attention, leading to an uncomfortable experience, even if no wrongdoing is found.

Adopted with the kind permission of General Practice Training and Consulting