Timeline of major developments in health check implementation
55 years and over annual health check (MBS items 704 and 706) introduced
The original First Nations health check was established as the First Nations equivalent of health checks for non‑Indigenous people aged 75 years and over.
15–54 years 2-yearly adult health check (MBS item 710) introduced
The extension of health checks to adults recognised that the conditions responsible for early deaths of First Nations people started before the age of 55.
0–14 years annual child health check (MBS item 708) introduced
With this addition, First Nations people of all ages were eligible for preventive health checks.
Follow‑up health services (MBS items 10987 and 81300–81360) introduced
Allowed First Nations people who received a health check to receive subsidised follow‑up care with a Practice Nurse, registered Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker or a range of allied health professionals.
National Partnership Agreement implemented
The National Partnership Agreement on Closing the Gap in Indigenous Health Outcomes included the Indigenous Chronic Disease Package. This package was funded by the Australian Government over 4 years from 2009–2013 and included a number of elements relevant to improving uptake of First Nations health measures.
Medicare Local Closing the Gap workforce established
Part of the Indigenous Chronic Disease Package, this workforce comprised:
This workforce assisted with the delivery of the Care Coordination and Supplementary Services and Improving Indigenous Access to Mainstream Primary Care programs.
Health check items 704, 708 and 710 combined
The 3 separate item numbers were replaced by a single item: MBS item 715. The frequency of health checks was standardised to annual, so First Nations people aged 15–54 were able to have a health check every year, instead of every 2 years.
Indigenous status required by Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Standards
Existing requirements were strengthened, so practices seeking accreditation had to demonstrate they were routinely recording Indigenous status in their active patient records.
Divisions of General Practice transitioned to Medicare Locals
Divisions of General Practice (n=112), as well as their national and jurisdiction level support structures (the Australian General Practice Network and 8 state-based organisations) were replaced with Medicare Locals (n=62), as part of the National Health Reform Agenda.
As part of efforts to close the gap, since 2011, the Australian Government worked with First Nations people to produce the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan, providing an opportunity to collaboratively set out a 10‑year plan for the direction of Indigenous health policy
Australian Medicare Local Alliance abolished
Australian Medicare Local Alliance (the national coordination body for Medicare Locals) was abolished. Regional coordination and support of the Closing the Gap workforce undertaken by the Alliance also ceased.
The Implementation Plan outlines the actions to be taken by the Australian Government and other key stakeholders to give effect to the vision, principles, priorities and strategies of the Health Plan, including goals for increasing the use of First Nations health checks.
Medicare Locals (n=62) were replaced by Primary Health Networks (n=31). In 2015–16, funding for the Care Coordination and Supplementary Services and Improving Indigenous Access to Mainstream Primary Care programs was provided through Primary Health Networks.
Integrated Team Care Activity started
Care Coordination and Supplementary Services and Improving Indigenous Access to Mainstream Primary Care program funding was combined into new Integrated Team Care Activity.
MBS health check item, 228, introduced for non‑VR Medical Practitioners
Allows eligible non-vocationally recognised medical practitioners (other than GPs and specialists) to claim MBS subsidies for First Nations health checks.
COVID‑19 temporary telehealth health check and follow‑up items introduced
To help reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID‑19 and provide protection for patients and health care providers (available until 30 September 2020).
COVID‑19 temporary telehealth items extended until 31 March 2021
To help reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID‑19 and provide protection for patients and health care providers (previously available until 30 September 2020).
COVID‑19 temporary health check items, 93470 and 93479, and follow‑up items, introduced for residential aged care facilities
To improve access to multidisciplinary care for residents of residential aged care facilities (RACF) during the COVID‑19 pandemic (available until 30 June 2022).
COVID‑19 temporary telehealth items extended until 30 June 2021
To help reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID‑19 and provide protection for patients and health care providers (previously available until 31 March 2021).
COVID‑19 temporary videoconference (telehealth) items extended until 31 December 2021
To help reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID‑19 and provide protection for patients and health care providers (previously available until 30 June 2021).
COVID‑19 temporary telephone (telehealth) items were discontinued at the end of June
Videoconference services were the preferred approach for substituting a face-to-face consultation.
Health check templates
The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) released 5 First Nations health check templates for testing, designed for different age groups, and downloadable from the RACGP website.
The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Plan 2021–2031 is the updated national policy to improve health and wellbeing outcomes for First Nations people over 10 years.
Some COVID‑19 temporary telehealth items became permanent
To help reduce the risk of community transmission of COVID‑19 and provide protection for patients and health care providers (previously available until 31 December 2021).
COVID-19 temporary RACF items were discontinued at the end of June
Health check Smart Form development
The Department of Health commissioned CSIRO to develop Smart Forms for health checks, using Item 715 as a proof of concept. Smart Forms are intended to streamline the collection and sharing of clinical information to improve patient outcomes.