Mental Health Service Use and Covid-19 in Australia

Data: Medicare Statistics

Medicare Statistics provides access to data on utilisation of health services that are covered and compensated by Medicate. Here is some information on what is included:

  • The figures in the report include only those services that are performed by a registered provider, for services that qualify for Medicare Benefit and for which a claim has been processed by Medicare Australia.
  • They do not include services provided by hospital doctors to public patients in public hospitals or services that qualify for a benefit under the Department of Veterans’ Affairs National Treatment Account.
  • State/Territory is determined according to the address (at the time of claiming) of the patient to whom the service was rendered.
  • Month is determined by the date the service was processed by Medicare Australia, not the date the service was provided.
  • Monthly figures may vary due to the varying number of processing days in a month, which depends on the number of days in the month, public holidays, overtime worked etc.

Read more about the data here: Link

Mental Health Service Utilisation through TeleHealth

Medicare’s phone and telehealth services are playing a critical role in ensuring access to mental health services in Australia during Covid-19. According to the data published by Medicare, a substantial portion of the services provided in April, May and June 2020 were not delivered face-to-face. However, following the decline in the number of reported cases of Covid-19 and ease of restrictions, share of phone/telehealth services declined.

Please notice that this data does not include psychology services as they are not covered by Medicare.

The uptake of telehealth/phone services has not been consistent across the jurisdictions. As the plot shows, NT and TAS have had the lowest share of telehealth/phone services out of total number of reported services and SA relatively used a higher number of these services.