Can a Physiotherapist refer you to a Specialist?
- September 16, 2017 at 2:54pm
- Ben Strachan
The term specialist generally refers to surgeons and medical doctors with advanced knowledge and training in specific healthcare. For example, orthopaedic surgeons, sports physicians, etc. A physiotherapist can write a referral and a surgeon may take the appointment, but the overarching issue of funding dictates its credibility and validity.
A specialist can receive partial funding from Medicare which usually covers a proportion of your consultation costs. However, Medicare requires that the referral come from a general practitioner (GP). If you have a GP referral, the programme will pay your costs. Otherwise, no fees will be paid by government.
The Circular Referral.
Until Medicare changes its GP referral rule and guidelines, I'm afraid that unnecessary visits will remain the order of the day in Australia. As physiotherapists, we are obliged to ask patients to attend their GP in order to get a referral. This is the heart of the so-called circular referral, i.e.:
A) Physiotherapist initiates specialist referral process with patient.
B) Patient makes referral request to their GP.
C) The GP refers to the specialist.
D) The specialist liaises with the physiotherapist for patient follow-up.
I feel the GP's role in this consultation is not necessary, and that physiotherapists should be allowed to refer directly to relevant specialists.
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