Dentists now have new item number for telehealth consultations

14 April 2020

With coronavirus restrictions preventing many patients from seeking urgent advice from their regular dentist, ADA) has today issued a new item number on the Australian Schedule of Dental Services and Glossary to allow for telehealth consultations.

The new item number, 919, will be particularly useful in circumstances where a patient is in self-isolation as a result of testing positive to COVID-19, has been exposed to someone with the virus, or is unable to leave their home due to other health problems.

Accompanying the development of the teledentistry item number, which should be restricted to use with existing patients or those referred from another practice, is a Guidelines for Teledentistry which has been created to explain how and when to use the new item number.

Its development is timely given current circumstances, says ADA President Dr Carmelo Bonanno. 

"For the last couple of weeks, dentists have been restricted in the range of procedures they can perform, and then only to patients who’ve been cleared for coronavirus or have a low risk of being exposed to someone with the virus." 

"With this new item number, patients will be able to seek advice either with videoconferencing or by phone from their dentist - without leaving their homes. 

The increased use of teledentistry consultations, which must meet existing clinical requirements and satisfy current privacy laws, is not intended as a replacement for normal preventative checks; rather it is designed for patients with an acute event such as toothache, broken tooth or damaged dentures or swelling or bleeding from their gums. 

While not all health insurers are paying rebates against the new item number, consultations by the ADA with Private Healthcare Australia, the representative body for health insurers, means that a number of funds will pay rebates  with HIF already advising its policyholders to do so. (The full list of insurers is expected to be available shortly.) 

In addition to lobbying health funds, the ADA has requested that the Department of Health and Department of Veterans’ Affairs include this new item number in the Child Dental Benefits Schedule, the Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate Scheme and the DVA Schedule of Dental Services.  

The full range of coronavirus resources are available through our dedicated COVID-19 site