Patients with chronic diseases – which health practitioners are they being referred to?

The percentile statistics for the use of the allied health item numbers for patients with a chronic condition who are being managed by their GP under an Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) plan have been released on the Medicare website. Under this plan, Medicare rebates are available for a maximum of 5 allied health services per patient per calendar year.

Here are the statistics for the 50th percentile for each health professional, indicating the average number of consultations for the 2013 calendar year. There was no data available on the Medicare website for psychologists, audiologists, Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander practitioners and dentistry. Optometry has an item number 10915 relating to an ocular health check for patients with diabetes, but technically isn’t under the EPC scheme as any diabetic patient can present without the need for a referral.

 

 It is obvious that patients with chronic conditions are most likely to be referred from their GP to a podiatrist, diabetes educator or dietitian. It is probable that many patients with EPC plans are diabetic. In late 2013, the Medical Observer published an article summarizing some of the findings of the Bettering the Evaluation of Care of Health (BEACH) program, which found that patients with Type 2 diabetes account for 8% of a GPs’ workload, and present to a GP an average of 8 times a year. The average Australian visits the GP 5.6 times per year.

 

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