Number of follow-ups
Health checks are useful for finding health issues; however, improving health outcomes also requires appropriate follow‑up of any issues identified during a health check (Bailie et al. 2014, Dutton et al. 2016).
Based on needs identified during a health check, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can access Indigenous‑specific follow‑up services – from allied health workers, practice nurses, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health practitioners – through MBS items 10987, 81300–81360, 93546–93558, 93571–93573, 93579–93591 and telehealth items 93048, 93061, 93200, 93202, 93592 and 93593 (see also Box 3).
Indigenous Australians may receive follow‑up care through other MBS items that are also available to non‑Indigenous patients. For example, if a person is diagnosed with a chronic health condition, the GP might prepare a GP Management Plan, or refer the person to a specialist. Data in this report relate to Indigenous‑specific items only.
In 2020–21, there were about 358,000 Indigenous‑specific follow‑up services provided to 154,000 Indigenous Australians – equivalent to 18% of the projected population. This was an increase from around 18,400 follow‑ups provided to 9,900 patients (or 1.4% of the population) in 2010–11 (Figure 13).
The number of Indigenous‑specific follow‑up services dropped for the first time in 2020–21, the first full year of the COVID‑19 pandemic. There were around 388,000 follow‑up services in 2019–20, but only 358,000 in 2020–21, amounting to a decrease of 8% (Figure 13).
Figure 13: Number of Indigenous‑specific follow‑up services and patients by sex and telehealth status, 2010–11 to 2020–21
An interactive line graph showing the change in number of patients and services for Indigenous-specific MBS follow-up items, between 2010-11 and 2020-21. The number of services is around two-times the number of patients each year. Both numbers increased substantially until 2020-21, when they dropped for the first time. Filters allow for selection by sex, broad category of practitioner type, and telehealth status. Refer to table 'FS01' in data tables.
Based on health needs identified during an Indigenous‑specific health check (MBS items 715, 228, 92004, 92011, 92016, 92023, 93470 and 93479), people can access a range of Indigenous‑specific follow‑up services – these are described below. The MBS item number indicates the type of provider, but not always the type of service received, as some provider types – such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners – can provide a mix of services.
Follow-up services provided by a practice nurse or an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner (MBS item 10987, 93200 and 93202)
Indigenous Australians who have received an Indigenous‑specific health check can access up to 10 follow-up services per calendar year provided by a practice nurse or an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner, where the service is provided on behalf of and under the supervision of a medical practitioner. These MBS items (numbers 10987, 93200 and 93202) may be used to provide a range of services, including:
- examinations/interventions indicated as necessary by the health check;
- education regarding medication compliance and associated monitoring;
- checks on clinical progress and service access;
- education, monitoring and counselling activities and lifestyle advice;
- taking medical history; and
- prevention advice for chronic conditions, and associated follow up.
Data on the specific type of services provided to each person under this MBS item are not available from the MBS data set.
MBS items 93200 and 93202 are telehealth items, which were added in March 2020.
Allied health follow‑up services (MBS items 81300–81360, 93048, 93061, 93546–93558, 93571–93573, 93579–93593)
Indigenous Australians who have received an Indigenous‑specific health check can access up to 10 follow‑up allied health services per calendar year, provided by either:
- an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner or Aboriginal health worker, following referral by the GP (MBS items 81300, 93048, 93061, 93546, 93579, 93592 and 93593); or
- an allied health worker, following referral by the GP (MBS items 81305–81360, 93048, 93061, 93547–93558, 93571–93573, 93580–93593).
Most item numbers relate to 1 eligible allied health professional only (see Table 2 in Data sources and notes). For items 81305–81360, 93547–93558, 93571–93573 and 93580–93591, this provides an indication of the type of services received (for example, item 81335 relates to a physiotherapy service provided by a physiotherapist); however item 81300 could include a range of allied health service types.
MBS items 93048 and 93061 are telehealth items, which were added in March 2020. These may be delivered by any of the allied health professionals eligible to claim items 81300–81360.
Further, MBS items 93546–93558, 93571–93573, 93579–93591, 93592 and 93593 are Allied Health items, which were added in December 2020 for Indigenous Australians in Residential Aged Care Facilities. MBS items 93592 and 93593 are telehealth items and may be delivered by any of the allied health professionals eligible to claim items 81300–81360.
Bailie J, Schierhout GH, Kelaher MA, Laycock AF, Percival NA, O’Donoghue LR, McNeair TL, Chakraborty A, Beacham BD and Bailie RS (2014) ‘Follow‑up of Indigenous‑specific health assessments – a socioecological analysis’, Medical Journal of Australia, 200(11):653–657, doi:10.5694/mja13.00256.
Dutton T, Stevens W and Newman J (2016), ‘Health assessments for Indigenous Australians at Orange Aboriginal Medical Service: health problems identified and subsequent follow up’, Australian Journal of Primary Health, 22(3):233–238, doi:10.1071/PY14120.