In 2020–21, there were about 244,000 Indigenous‑specific health checks provided to about 237,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Figure 1). The minimum time allowed between checks is 9 months, and so people can receive more than 1 health check in a year. Data from the Indigenous primary health care national Key Performance Indicators (nKPIs) data collection suggest that GPs at Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations conduct nearly half of all Indigenous‑specific health checks despite only making up about 1.8% of fulltime-equivalent general practitioners (GPs) (See Indigenous‑specific health checks, AIHW 2021).
Between 2010–11 and 2018–19, the number of Indigenous Australians receiving a health check more than tripled – from about 71,000 to 241,000 patients. For the first time in 9 years, the number of health check patients decreased during the COVID‑19 pandemic (See Impacts of COVID-19 on data, AIHW 2021). The number of people who received a health check first dropped slightly in 2019–20 (by about 2,200 patients or 1% since 2018–19), and then dropped again in 2020–21 by a similar number (about 2,200 patients or 1% since 2019–20) (Figure 1).
Telehealth MBS items were introduced in 2020, in response to COVID‑19 and associated restrictions (Department of Health 2020). 12,000 Indigenous‑specific health checks were conducted via telehealth in 2020–21, equating to 5% of all health checks in the financial year. The number of patients who received a health check via telehealth in 2020–21 was greater than in 2019–20 (12,000 compared with 10,000), but it is important to note that telehealth items were only available for 3–4 months in 2019–20 (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Number of Indigenous‑specific health check patients and services by sex and telehealth status, 2010–11 to 2020–21