Physios referring directly to specialists – worth the $13 million annual savings or fragmenting care?

A Griffith University study has investigated the likely financial impact of physiotherapists referring patients directly to specialist medical practitioners.

Under the current system, a physiotherapist who believes a patient needs specialist care must refer the patient to a general practitioner who will decide on the care plan.

According to the study, on average, six referrals per month are made by physiotherapists, and direct referral to medical specialists would result in a likely cost saving to the government of up to $13 million per year.

Australian Physiotherapy Association National President Marcus Dripps has said that “physiotherapists are highly qualified and experienced primary contact health professionals who are well respected by GPs and other health specialists as being an important part of the health system. GPs currently refer more patients to physiotherapists than any other single group.”

However, when an article about physiotherapy referrals was published by the Medical Observer, comments included:

  • “I am sure the Physios will have good judgement – after all currently their referrals for MRIs, Sports Doctors and Orthopds are all very sensible – NOT !”
  • “No-one among all these various allied health people who want a part of the action seem to give a tuppenny damn about the CONTINUITY OF CARE and the INTEGRITY of the PATIENT’S MEDICAL RECORD..!”

Click here for more on what’s happening in physiotherapy in Australia.

Image: 401(K) 2012 – flickr

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