Preparing the way for change

 

The past 12 months has seen significant reform in the health sector, and we have also seen a more sustained threat against physiotherapy scope and practice. Increasingly, health service funders will challenge what a physiotherapist should do, and what they will pay for. While this isn’t new, it is steadily increasing, and our ability to advocate for contemporary practice is critical.

Protecting our profession into the future is reliant on several factors. Our ability to generate high-quality research is not in doubt—our performance in this area is very strong. But rarely do funders of services make decisions based on good evidence alone. Our learnings from dealing head-on with politicians at the highest level have made several things clear: in addition to high-quality evidence you need a strong political will, to be sophisticated in how you make a case, and to demonstrate a strong economic argument about the value of physiotherapy.

Good-quality research and evidence is a critical foundation block for our advocacy, but it is only one part.

During the last 12 months we have secured some important advocacy wins including:

  • gaining representation at the reference committee for the National Health Prevention Strategy 2020–2030
  • securing a seat at the table of the steering committee for the National Primary Health Reform strategy 2020–2030
  • winning a significant fee increase for physiotherapists working within the NDIS creating an exemption in the Natural Therapies Review for physiotherapists to continue to practice Pilates within an agreed framework, and to receive a rebate
  • halting implementation of the Workforce Incentive Program that would incentivise GPs to employ their own physiotherapists, pausing proposed funding changes for physiotherapy care of veterans and re-negotiating with the government a better outcome.

There are many others. These wins are important, and are the result of significant work of our engaged members and staff. But the threats to our scope and practice will continue. To future-proof physiotherapy, a few things need to change. We have engaged the services of a professional lobbyist in Canberra for the first time, we’ve commissioned a project to better quantify the economic value of physiotherapy across a range of conditions, we have invested in pilot programs and partnerships to build capacity at practice level to record, quantify and share clinical outcomes, and we have developed a stakeholder relationship strategy.

Good-quality research and evidence is a critical foundation block for our advocacy, but it is only one part. A sophisticated political strategy, a sound economic argument, a robust method of managing stakeholder relations and partnerships, and a method of recording, obtaining and expressing clinical outcomes in primary healthcare settings are the other essential planks. We are positioning ourselves well, and the opportunity to further impact funding streams is exciting.

To contact Phil, email national.president@australian.physio

 

© Copyright 2018 by Australian Physiotherapy Association. All rights reserved.