Education guide - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments and follow-up services
Information on Indigenous health assessments and follow up services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.
We recommend you also read the relevant Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) item descriptors and explanatory notes available at the MBS Online website.
Health assessment - MBS item 715
This item is for patients of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent and can be claimed once every 9 months. The purpose of this item is to:
- provide a comprehensive health check for all ages
- evaluate a patient’s health considering their physical, psychological and social wellbeing
- help general practitioners (GPs) develop suitable plans for their patients to:
- support good health or improve health
- prevent or reduce chronic disease risk factors
In-patients of hospitals and residents of aged care facilities aren't eligible for item 715.
General item 715 elements
Item 715 requires that:
- a GP, working in general practice (other than a specialist or consultant physician) personally attends the patient
- a patient history is taken
- examinations and investigations are undertaken as required
- an overall assessment is made
- appropriate interventions are recommended
- advice and information is provided
- a health assessment record is kept
Specific elements for patient life stages
The MBS explanatory notes on the MBS Online website outlines specific elements required for item 715 at different life stages.
|Life stage||Age in years|
|child||0 to less than 15|
|adult||15 to under 55|
|older person||55 and over|
On completion, the patient should be offered a written report on the health assessment, covering recommendations made in the health assessment. Where applicable, a copy or relevant extracts, may be offered to the patient’s carer, provided the patient agrees to this.
Completing a health assessment and follow-up services
This flowchart shows the process for completing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessment and follow up services.
- GP completes a health assessment and claims item 715
- helping the GP – GPs determine if they need a practice nurse, Aboriginal health worker or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner to help collect information
- up to 10 follow up services for item 10987 can be provided, per calendar year, by a practice nurse or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner on behalf of GPs
- GPs can refer patients for up to 5 follow up allied health services in total per calendar year, if identified in the health assessment
Considerations for undertaking health assessments
Generally, the patient's usual doctor undertakes the health assessment. When undertaking a health assessment, make sure you consider the following:
- GPs must explain what's involved in the health assessment to patients, parents or carers
- patients must give their consent for the health assessment and for their personal information to be collected
- the patient’s consent must be recorded
- health assessments are not the same as a health screening service
- GPs must be satisfied that under their supervision, suitably qualified practice nurses, Aboriginal health workers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners have the necessary skills, expertise and training to:
- collect information, and
- provide information on recommended interventions to patients, parents or carers
Follow-up services on behalf of GPs
After completing a health assessment, GPs can claim item 10987 for follow-up services. Practice nurses and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners must provide these services on behalf of and under GP supervision.
Supervision of the practice nurse or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner at a distance is recognised as an acceptable form of supervision.
Follow up services provide Indigenous patients with preventative health care and education between consultations with the GP. These can include:
- examinations and interventions indicated in the health assessment
- education on medication compliance and related monitoring
- checks on clinical progress and service access
- education, monitoring and counselling activities and lifestyle advice
- taking a medical history
- preventative advice for chronic conditions and related follow-up
Patients can have up to 10 item 10987 follow up services in total per calendar year. For bulk bill claims, incentive items 10990 or 10991 also apply when claimed in conjunction with item 10987.
GP attendance for follow-up services
GPs aren't required to be present for health assessment follow up services under item 10987 and can decide whether they need to see the patient. If a GP decides they need to see a patient, they can claim a Medicare attendance item for the time and complexity of their attendance with the patient.
Practice nurses and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners can also provide separate follow up services under item 10987. The time spent for this service does not count towards the time taken for any GP follow up attendance on the patient.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioners can provide another service, for example immunisation or wound management, on the same day. GPs can claim for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health practitioner services provided.
In-patients of hospitals aren't eligible for item 10987.
Patient eligibility for referred allied health services
These items are only available for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Australians.
Where follow up allied health services are identified in the patient’s health assessment, GPs can refer for up to 5 services in total per calendar year.
The total of up to 5 services includes items 81300 to 81360 and can be made up of:
- 1 service type, for example 5 physiotherapy services
- a combination of different service types, for example 1 dietetic, 2 podiatry and 2 physiotherapy services
In-patients of hospitals aren't eligible for follow up allied health items.
To access follow-up allied health services, patients must be referred by their GP to the relevant eligible allied health professional. The GP is responsible for identifying which allied health services are appropriate for the patient.
GPs must use either the referral form issued by the Department of Health or a form that contains all the components of this form.
|GPs||Referred services||Service type||Example|
|May use 1 referral form||
|Must use a separate referral form for each service type||
A health assessment referral form and proformas are available on the Department of Health website.
Allied health professionals must provide a written report for the referring GP, including details about:
- the investigations, tests and assessments performed on the patient
- the treatment provided
- the future management needed for the patient’s condition or problem
Where multiple follow up services are provided, the allied health professional must provide a report after the first and last service, or more often if clinically necessary. Where only a single service is provided, a report is required after that service.
Closing the Gap (CTG) on Indigenous health
The Practice Incentives Program Indigenous Health Incentive and CTG Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme Co-payment Measure also provide support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to better manage chronic disease. Read more on the Practice Incentives Program.
A 55 year old Indigenous patient presents with moderately severe impetigo requiring antibiotic treatment. As their usual GP, you are concerned about improving their general health and make the clinical decision to undertake a health assessment today while the patient is at the practice.
The below table shows the actions for health assessment stages between the GP and the patient.
|Health assessment stage||GP actions||Patient|
As part of this strategy you:
|agrees to this|
Additional bulk billing for item 10990 or 10991 also applies to the health assessment service item 715 and follow-up services under item 10987.
- Education services for health professionals to access other education resources
Contact us at MBS item interpretation.
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