Physiotherapy Referral to Medical Specialists

Physiotherapy Referral to Medical Specialists

A key focus for advocacy is the issue of physiotherapists’ right to refer patients to Medical Specialists under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). The APA believes that physiotherapy referral to medical specialists within the physiotherapist’s scope of practice is safe and appropriate, and should be funded through the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

Specialist referral is not new, it is happening at the moment, with physiotherapists sending patients to a GP to write out a referral to the specialist they need to see. The APA has long argued that this wastes Medicare dollars, and adds unnecessary complexity and duplication into the patient journey.

The APA’s position is that physiotherapy referral to medical specialists is safe and effective, and improves the patient journey.

Cost savings

To test how much money is really wasted during this process, the APA recently commissioned an economic evaluation. Research was conducted by Griffith University’s Centre for Applied Health Economics and the Deeble Institute. The report tested specific models around physiotherapy referral, and found that:

If patients directly referred to specialist medical practitioners by all physiotherapists could receive Medicare rebates:


Savings to Medicare:    $13,641,362
 
Savings to patients:  $2,175,407 
Total savings:     $15,816,769 

The report also tested other scenarios such referral rights for titled and specialist physiotherapists, and for only specialist physiotherapists.
             
Download the full report here.

APA Pre-budget submission

The APA’s annual pre-budget submission focused on the issue of physiotherapy referral to medical specialists. It provides information about the financial savings and further discusses the quality and safety questions that might be raised around the proposal.

Click here to read the full submission. 

Other resources

Click here to download the APA’s Fast Facts sheet on physiotherapy referral to medical specialists.