Running virtual consultations

What do I need to know about the new ‘remote’ model of care GPs are now providing?

15 October 2020

If there is a raise in alert levels, the College may ask members to put a ‘remote’ model of care in place. 

This is to protect your most vulnerable patients by reducing the number of people congregating in practice waiting rooms and, therefore, reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19.

The College may request:

  • Virtualisation: Practices to start ‘virtual first’ triage (phone, email or video) for every patient, and to expand the use of virtual GP consults where appropriate (without compromising patient safety) with the goal of reducing face-to-face consultations by 70%.
  • Routine care: Continuity of care would need to be maintained, however non-urgent, routine care (including screening) may need to be deferred.  
  • Frontline staff: Move their immunocompromised or pregnant staff, and those with co-morbidities to non-contact functions.
For advice on telehealth, electronic prescriptions, and data and information sharing please see the advice from the Ministry of Health.

Does a virtual consultation ‘count’ as a contact for the purpose of High User Health Cards?

Reviewed 21 January 2021

The Ministry of Health has advised the College :“During COVID-19, a virtual consultation counts as a consultation for the purposes of the 12 visits necessary for HUHC, as long as something is written in the patient notes.”

Note: NZ TELEHEALTH has sought to clarify the terminology around ‘face to face’ / ’in-person’ consultations


Is it acceptable for the general practice team to obtain oral consent from the patient for the general practice to apply the HUHC on behalf of them?

Reviewed 21 January 2021

The Ministry of Health has advised the College the following: "Although there is a legislative requirement for the applicant's signature in the current COVID-19 working environment it is acceptable for the general practice team to obtain oral consent from the patient for the general practice to apply the HUHC on behalf of them, have the event documented and attached with their email application. This option fits with other enrolment processes being accepted in these circumstances."