By leveraging its team of 1,500 health professionals across Australia, Medibank has been instrumental in delivering large-scale COVID-19 telehealth services, as well as supporting two state governments with the second outbreak.
Medibank’s telehealth business is working alongside clients – including government and not-for-profit organisations – helping them bolster their existing helplines and providing new COVID-19 services. These include telephone nurse triage, mental health counselling, coordinating in-home COVID-19 testing and welfare checks for the elderly and vulnerable.
Last year, Medibank’s team of nurses, GPs, counsellors and mental health professionals handled more than 2 million telehealth interactions. This was before the onset of the Australian bushfires and COVID-19.
Medibank’s Group Executive of Healthcare & Strategy Dr Andrew Wilson said the business had significantly scaled up its clinical workforce to ensure demand was met, handling 328,000 COVID-19 related interactions on behalf of our clients.
“Many people were first-time callers wanting to know more about COVID-19, or to discuss their health, the effects of isolation or a sudden job loss,” Dr Wilson said.
“One of our clients Beyond Blue, experienced increased demand for its mental health support services, with the impact of lockdowns on individuals and families. It’s vitally important these free calls and webchats are answered quickly. We saw a new surge in interactions coming from Victoria, and that’s a positive, because it means those who need support are getting it.”
Medibank supported the Victorian Government with nurses for communicating COVID-19 test results and welfare checks on the elderly and vulnerable. In August, Medibank assisted with establishing ‘Call to Test’ – a new service coordinating in-home testing for people who have difficulties getting to a testing facility.
Medibank is also working with the South Australian Government to deliver mental health support services for returned travellers and those within the community in mandatory hotel quarantine. This service is provided by mental health clinicians. Medibank is also working remotely with confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, who have serious pre-existing conditions.
This year Medibank has provided its customers with more than $185 million in COVID-19 assistance including financial hardship support, extending health cover, postponing premiums and developing customised health support programs. Medibank also donated $5 million to Beyond Blue to help establish its new Coronavirus Mental Health Support Line.
“I’m proud to play my part”
Danielle Gallan, nurse and clinical lead for ‘Call to Test’, delivered by Medibank on behalf of the Victorian Government
Danielle Gallan has been a nurse for 12 years and has worked for Medibank’s telehealth triage service for close to a decade.
“When COVID-19 became a pandemic, the demand for telehealth advice was three to five times the normal call volume. Understandably, it’s a new virus and people were looking for the latest health advice from clinical professionals,” Danielle said.
Danielle was supporting the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), during Victoria’s second outbreak. She was Medibank’s clinical lead in setting up the Victorian Government’s new ‘Call to Test’ service, which started in early August.
“DHHS wanted the Call to Test helpline set up quickly. It’s for those who have a disability, are elderly or isolated, and can’t leave home for a COVID-19 test. We’ll arrange for a healthcare worker to be sent to their home.
“Some callers are living with a person who’s already COVID-19 positive, and they’re worried about leaving the house and infecting others. I’ve had a call from a lady in her 90s, living alone. I ended up speaking to her daily, until she had received her negative test result, which helped with her anxiety. We’ve organised home testing for the disabled. I’ve had a young man with a broken leg who couldn’t drive,” she added.
Danielle said this has been her busiest six months in the job.
“Many in our clinical team were already working on existing nurse triage lines during the first outbreak in March. Demand then flattened, before ramping back up again. We learnt a lot before the second wave hit. We’re now much more aware of what the community requires, especially helping those who are vulnerable.”
She said some members of her team are also working in hospitals and seeing the health impacts of COVID-19 directly.
“It’s been all hands-on deck to get these specialised COVID-19 helplines up and running quickly. Nurses from across the country, are taking extra shifts when needed on the phones. We’ve had double the amount of calls compared to the peak of flu season. We’re keen to use our skills where and when we’re needed, and to help where we can.”