From 1 November 2010 patients can claim on Medicare when
examined by suitably qualified nurses. The nurse can examine a patient on their own (without a doctor), write some prescriptions and referrals.
What might be useful is nurse practitioners linked to doctors by broadband. A nurse practitioner could record the patient history and make an examination. Then, where necessary, the nurse could contact a doctor online. The patient details would appear on the doctor's screen along with live video. The doctor could then make a quick assessment. In most cases they would simply confirm the nurse's diagnosis. But they could request further tests, write a prescription, or ask the patient to come in person.
As the nurse practitioners can now set up practice for themselves, this could change the balance of power in the medical profession and lower costs. Most visits to the doctor would be eliminated. The nurse would be the one the patient goes to see and so the nurse would decide if patient needs to see a doctor and which doctor they will see.