Question from Dr M:

Can I work from home and bill Medicare on the provider number registered at my home address?

Answer: This question is asked again and again by some of our consulting clients. The simple answer is – yes.

Billing Medicare from home is not a complicated process. This process has been all set up at HPOS. All you need is a PRODA account with access to HPOS. Every medical practitioner has or is entitled to a PRODA account. Please, see the instructions here.

That sounds almost too easy. However, practising from home has some strings attached.

  1. Privacy and confidentiality requirements.
  2. Record keeping and maintaining requirements.
  3. Follow up and clinical hand over requirements.
  4. Provider number address requirements.

Privacy and confidentiality requirements.

Working from home usually means that a doctor is practising from their family residence. Other people live in that residence and visit that residence. It is a strict obligation to make sure that medical records are not accessible by unauthorised people.

Paper-based records must be locked in the cupboard. Should there be any lost documents on the desk, the room from which the doctor works must be locked.

The computer used for practising from home must be as secure as any computer at the average medical clinic.

Any telephone conversations in the course of practising must be secure and not be overheard by the members of the household and any visitors.

Record keeping and maintaining requirements.

Records must not only be kept confidential but must be kept for a certain period of time. Records must be kept secure and available for a minimum of seven years from the date of the last service for an adult. For children, records must be kept until they reach 25 years old.

Records must be available at any time for medical reports, transfer of the records and any Court proceeding.

To fulfil this requirement, a servicing provider (GP) must arrange for the way of communication in order to receive the requests for the records. That may be a challenge for some because doctors just like other people move, retire, get sick and die.

Follow up and clinical handover requirements.

GPs have an obligation to follow up on any abnormal results. This obligation comes with the arrangement called ‘clinical handover’. A GP must be able to hand over any clinical cases to another GP in case of illness, absence or death.

Provider number address requirements.

Medicare provider number is address sensitive. A GP working from home may bill consultation items e.g. 23 and 36 only if patients visit them at home. Visiting patients at their homes must be billed as home visits.