GPs are the only medical practitioners that specialise in managing multimorbidity across the full patient spectrum, from paediatrics to aged care. This unique case load requires broad-ranging knowledge and a whole-of-person approach to providing care. We know multimorbidity is increasing, and the complexity of care required is increasing with it.
This burden of complexity is in part reflected in the increasing use of MBS item numbers for longer consultations, mental health items and items relating to more complex care. GPs are spending more time with their patients as the complexity of their health conditions increases.
Between 2010–19, billing of long (20–40 minutes) and prolonged (longer than 40 minutes) consultations increased by 104% and 125%, respectively. At the same time, use of MBS items for patients with chronic disease increased by 182% and specific mental health items increased by 202%. In comparison, consultations of under 20 minutes and short consultations increased by only 32% and 19%, respectively, over the same period (Figure 10).