Chronic Disease Management

A chronic disease is one that you have had, or can expect to have for at least six months. The most common chronic diseases that are dealt with in General Practice are:
  • Diabetes
  • Respiratory diseases such as asthma
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Cancer
  • Osteoporosis
  • Arthritis

GP Management Plans and Team Care Arrangements

If you suffer from a chronic condition a GP Management Plan can help you stay out of hospital and help to delay the progress of the disease. The Plan is your strategy for dealing with your disease in conjunction with your GP and the allied health professionals he recommends. You will be encouraged to set goals and tasks to meet these goals.

Team Care Arrangements usually involve your GP and at least two other healthcare professionals such as a specialist, dietician, physiotherapist, or podiatrist. Once the doctor has developed a Management Plan or Team Care Arrangement the relevant item numbers are lodged with Medicare to enable you to claim a rebate on the Allied Health Providers’ fees. Such plans are usually reviewed at three monthly intervals, or as the doctor decides, and renewed annually. We maintain a recall system so that you will be contacted when you are due to have these arrangements reviewed and you will be contacted to make the appropriate appointments. Often you will be requested to have blood tests undertaken prior to attending and forms will be sent to you. When making an appointment with regard to Care Plan reviews it is important to notify Reception as there are Medicare restrictions on how often these item numbers can be claimed. Failure to observe these rules can result in further expense for the patient as the Medicare claim will be rejected.

Access to Allied Health Care

Allied health professionals such as Aboriginal Health Workers; Audiologists; Chiropractors; Osteopaths; Podiatrists; Diabetes Educators; Dieticians; Exercise Physiologists; Mental Health Workers; Occupational Therapists; Physiotherapists; Psychologists; Speech Pathologists are eligible to provide care for patients with a chronic condition and complex care needs and claim a Medicare rebate providing they are registered with Medicare Australia. In order to access these services you must meet the criteria regarding chronic disease and have a referral from your GP. Medicare benefits are available for up to five allied health services per patient per year. This can mean five physiotherapy sessions or two podiatry appointments and three physiotherapy sessions. Sometimes these providers will bulk bill but there may still be some out of pocket expenses and you should check this when making appointments.

Mental Health Care Plan

Mental health is every bit as important as physical health in enabling a patient to lead a satisfying and fulfilling lifestyle. Mental health covers a wide range of clinically diagnosable disorders that impact on an individual’s thinking, behaviour, emotions and social interactions. These disorders can vary from stress and minor depression to more serious conditions such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. The aim of the Mental Health Care Plan is to make professional help available to anyone in need of it.

In order for you to be referred to a professional under a Mental Health Care Plan you will need to see the doctor for assessment and to discuss your needs before deciding on appropriate referrals and services. This may mean referral to a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist or allied mental health professional for further management of your condition.

Medicare benefits are available for up to ten mental health services (up to 16 sessions during the transitional period where exceptional circumstances apply) per eligible patient per calendar year to help with costs. These may not cover the entire cost of consultations and you should check with the individual provider when making an appointment.