A fair price for sustainable care

The image shows a set of scales. On the left a red ball says Price and hangs lower than the blue ball on the right which says Value.

A fair price for sustainable care

The image shows a set of scales. On the left a red ball says Price and hangs lower than the blue ball on the right which says Value.

This year, some changes in the administration of government departments have given us the opportunity to improve our engagement and demonstrate our value to consumers in the healthcare system.

I met with Rebecca Falkingham, the new CEO of the National Disability Insurance Agency, with the aim of building a better relationship with the department and the agency. 

We discussed the pricing component of provision of services to this sector, the need to keep up with the consumer price index and the wage price index, and the importance of fair remuneration for service rendered to ensure the sustainability of investment in care.

I also strongly advocated for clinical reasoning expertise in disability support, especially as it relates to eligibility and support planning. 

Our professional integrity and our care coordination and planning must be respected by the care planners, whose understanding of the disability pathway for participants has, at times, been less than ideal.

Finally, I spoke about the need to engage all stakeholders in the same room so that a robust discussion can be had to ensure that the agency understands the complexities of the system, the administrative burden and the need for an open dialogue about governance, quality and safety. 

This was an exceptional first meeting with a genuine intention to make sure that the National Disability Insurance Scheme is sustainable and fulfils requirements in line with the significant investment made by the government.

I also met with the new secretary of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Alison Frame, on the back of the release of our Future of Physiotherapy in Australia: A 10-year vision policy white paper and the 2021 Nous report Alternative funding models for allied health services for veterans.

We looked at efficiency and quality in different models of care and I emphasised that physiotherapists have the skill set for care coordination of (at least) musculoskeletal conditions, which would improve the veteran healthcare experience while increasing not only the quality and safety of care, but—crucially—the efficiency of the system.

I suggested that she explore some pilots for bundled payments for veteran care such as osteoarthritis care and postoperative rehabilitation.

This led to the topic of pricing veteran care more appropriately for the sustainability of care under this scheme. 

The APA has called on the department to review our consultation fees across the board to reflect the current market rate seen in private practice. 

We also discussed the need for a higher price point for an initial consultation compared to a subsequent consultation and the disparity between physiotherapy fees and those of other professions. 

The APA will continue to lobby the department, politicians and other stakeholders to ensure that physiotherapists can, in turn, continue to provide a quality service to our veteran population.

Finally, some of us met with a government consultant to talk about digital health, access to and uploading on My Health Record and secure messaging between all providers. 

We were overt about how uneven the current system is and the challenges it presents for physiotherapists in using digital infrastructure effectively. 

We gave specific examples of where we could be more effective and save duplication if we had an easy and efficient way to access digital health. 

In light of the current health reforms, I hope that this will finally be a government priority.

Time will tell—let’s see what’s in the Budget handed down by the Albanese government this month.

Take care and stay safe.


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