Patients are yearning for enhanced ownership of their own care, yet the current Australian healthcare system doesn’t allow for quick access to quality treatment, where and when the patient requires.
To assist in the optimisation of the patient pathway, the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) has tabled a Pre-Budget submission to the Federal Government ahead of the 2023-24 Budget in May.
The submission, Physiotherapy: High-value care for all, presents solutions for high-value care, reduced costs, improved efficiency and ownership of a patient’s journey. The $14billion spent on musculoskeletal conditions represents the highest health spend of disease expenditure in Australia, with more money being spent on conditions such as osteoarthritis or back pain, than any other disease, condition or injury in the country¹.
For the almost 7million people living with musculoskeletal conditions in Australia², publicly funded physiotherapy is an essential and effective path to getting the treatment they need. APA National President Scott Willis said that the integration of physiotherapy care is critical and will assist in reducing the burden on GPs and emergency departments.
“Unnecessary presentations to doctors and hospitals for musculoskeletal conditions is where physiotherapy is in a perfect position to assist. The APA is calling for more focus to be placed on integrating physiotherapists and other allied health practitioners into primary care through the government’s Urgent Care Clinic trial,” Mr Willis said.
“Team-based care in the Urgent Care Clinic model will foster a much more sustainable pathway for the patient, as they will be able to see the relevant practitioner for their concern. Bringing publicly funded physiotherapy into this model is key to ensuring continuity of care and reducing the burden of non-life threatening presentations to GPs and emergency departments.
“We want the structural barriers that currently exist for diagnostic and imaging referrals to be removed, allowing physiotherapists to directly refer to orthopaedic surgeons within their scope of practice, as well as expanding imaging rights for physiotherapists to improve the value and quality of care for patients.
“Reform is our biggest challenge, but it provides an opportunity to improve the care for all that we should grab with both hands,” Mr Willis said.
As the APA has called for previously, investment in publicly funded First Contact Physiotherapy, expansion of the chronic disease and pain-related items of the Medicare system and the implementation of a long COVID rehabilitation pathway are also in the top priorities of this submission.
The submission aims to improve the health of the population and reduce health inequalities. It also details the APA’s priorities for First Nations health, rural health, Australians with a disability, older Australians, preventive health, physical birth trauma and exercise and cancer.
You can view the submission here.
¹ Australian Physiotherapy Association, Physiotherapy: high-value care for all, Federal Pre-Budget Submission 2023-24, page 2. Available at:https://australian.physio/sites/default/files/submission-2023-01/APA_Federal_Pre-Budget_Submission_2023-24.pdf
² Australian Physiotherapy Association, Physiotherapy: high-value care for all, Federal Pre-Budget Submission 2023-24, page 2. Available at:https://australian.physio/sites/default/files/submission-2023-01/APA_Federal_Pre-Budget_Submission_2023-24.pdf
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