Allied health practitioner views about patient suitability may impact
on which patients seek to be referred to the Enhanced Primary Care
(EPC) Program through their general practitioner. These views have
not been previously evaluated.
Participants were speech pathologists who were both working in
private practice in Australia and members of Speech Pathology
Australia (SPA). Participants completed an online survey, which was
sent via an email link to all eligible members. The email database
captured more than 95% of all private practitioner members of SPA.
Speech pathologists discuss the EPC Program with patients if they
feel it is relevant to them. In determining eligibility, the majority of
speech pathologists cited the Department of Heath and Ageing
criteria for eligibility as their guide; however, interpretations of
these criteria varied. Additionally, speech pathologists frequently
considered other factors, such as severity or financial need, as
impacting on suitability. Speech pathologists expressed concern
about the perceived inconsistency of referrals by GPs under the EPC
There is an urgent need for clarification, education and
interprofessional discussion about eligibility and access to the EPC
Allied health items have been included in the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) since 1 July 2004 through the Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) Program. The eligibility criteria for allied health services state that the patient must:
- have a chronic condition and complex health care needs, and
- a GP Management Plan and Team Care Arrangement items set in place within the previous 2 years.1,2
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