New MBS items aim to help multidisciplinary care

Jolyon Attwooll

4/11/2021 4:52:09 PM

The Department of Health says the funding will help GPs work with other health disciplines to support vulnerable patients.

Generic image of professionals consulting
A total of $13.7 million has been put aside in the most recent budget.

New MBS items are being made available for allied health professionals working with GPs to support patients with chronic disease, as well as young children with development disorders.
The Federal Government announced this week that patients will be able to receive a Medicare rebate for eligible allied health professionals participating in case conferences organised by their regular GP.
Previously that had not been the case, with allied health professionals allowed to take part, but not be supported via Medicare.
The Government announcement outlining the new Medicare support said the items have been created in response to recommendations in the MBS Review. A total of $13.7 million has been put aside for the initiative in the most recent budget, the Department of Health (DoH) said.
The DoH added that the MBS items will ‘improve care coordination and deliver better outcomes to patients with complex needs who have multiple care providers’.
It also stated that the funding will help increase the number of doctor-led multidisciplinary case conferences.
With the new Medicare support, allied health professionals should now be paid to attend multidisciplinary conferences held by the patient’s GP to discuss diagnosis, as well as care and treatment plans. The conferences can be held in person, via video or on the phone.
The items are aimed at allied health professionals involved in managing people with chronic disease under the care of a GP as part of Team Care Arrangements.

They are also aimed at those involved in helping children aged under 13, who are under the care of GP, non-GP specialist or consultant to provide early diagnosis and treatment of autism and other pervasive developmental disorders.
Dr Lara Roeske, Chair of RACGP Specific Interests, said the additional funding is welcome.
‘I think it is a good thing,’ she told newsGP.
‘The allied health professionals should be appropriately remunerated for that time and hopefully that will facilitate improved access to multidisciplinary case conferences.
‘If we are just having ad-hoc conversations, that is not really conducive to quality, safe care.’
Dr Roeske said the support will be particularly valuable as she believes there are insufficient allied healthcare providers in Australia, particularly within the disability sector.
‘Anything that lets people feel valued for the professional expertise they bring, hopefully will get more allied health professionals training up – because we need them as part of the team,’ she said.
In its announcement, the DoH said the funding should help improve patient care and help healthcare teams work together.
Healthcare professionals who are eligible for the MBS items include:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners and health workers
  • audiologists
  • chiropractors
  • diabetes educators
  • dietitians
  • exercise physiologists
  • mental health workers
  • occupational therapists
  • osteopaths
  • physiotherapists
  • podiatrists
  • psychologists
  • speech pathologists.
For children with pervasive developmental disorders, the following health professionals are considered eligible:
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners and health workers
  • Audiologists
  • Mental health nurses
  • Mental health workers
  • Occupational therapists
  • Optometrists
  • Orthoptists
  • Physiotherapists
  • Psychologists
  • Speech pathologists
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Dr Paul Vernon Jenkinson   5/11/2021 7:30:59 AM

This is a great initiative if funded adequately.
Anything efficiencies in the system have their root in poor communication.
Osteopaths,Chiropractors,I'm not so sure.I never refer to either or seek their advice.

Dr Irandani Anandi Ranasinghe-Markus   5/11/2021 7:58:20 AM

The key words here are ‘Organised by their regular GP’. $13.5 million is a decent allocation of funding if directed appropriately. It is imperative these case conferences are GP initiated and GP led as the above announcement states. I’m sure my GP colleagues at the coalface will agree that on a daily basis we are inundated with requests from various allied health professionals ‘just ask you GP to do a referral’. This should NOT work that way, but be initiated by the GP and not the other way around in order that these funds are used appropriately. We have seen otherwise with Mental Health Care Plans and CDM plans - numerous inappropriate requests which basically leads to a ‘waste’ of funds thus leaving a deficit where it is really needed. This also means that we as GPs play an active role in identifying these patients and setting up the necessary case conferences. I can not stress enough that CDM items are used inappropriately on many occasions with the criteria not being fully met!