Cancer Screening

April 2009

Research

Playing by the rules

Speech pathologists’ views about patient suitability for the Enhanced Primary Care Program

Volume 38, No.4, April 2009 Pages 269-272

Jemma Skeat

Angela Morgan

Tristan Nickless

Background

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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 Program.

Discussion

There is an urgent need for clarification, education and interprofessional discussion about eligibility and access to the EPC Program.

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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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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