GP Information and Resources
Your patients may be able to see a psychologist with the help of Medicare.
Most common mental health problems are eligible under the Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative which was introduced in November 2006. It is easy to arrange for your patients.
All psychologists practising with LIFE Psychology & Counselling are approved Medicare providers. The Medicare rebate covers much of the session cost making it even more affordable for your patients to receive the psychological treatment and care they need.
Patients with the following disorders who would benefit from a structured approach to the management of their mental health needs are eligible to receive the Medicare rebates:
- Generalised anxiety
- Mixed anxiety and depression
- Adjustment disorder
- Sleep problems
- Panic disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Bereavement disorders
- Dissociative (conversion) disorders
- Chronic / Acute Psychotic disorders
- Eating disorders
- Sexual disorders
- Alcohol use disorders
- Drug use disorders
- Conduct disorders
- Hyperkinetic (attention deficit) disorder
- Enuresis (non medical)
- Unexplained somatic complaints
- Mental disorder, not otherwise specified
Accessing Medicare Rebates
Following assessment and referral by a GP patients can access up to 10 Medicare rebates for individual sessions with a psychologist in a 12 month period. Patients can also access an additional 10 Medicare rebates for group therapy sessions.
Using Outcome Measurement Tools
Unless clinically inappropriate, an outcome measurement tool should be utilised to evaluate symptoms during the assessment and review of the GP Mental Health Care Plan. This provides a structured way of measuring symptoms and monitoring progress. There is no requirement to use any specific outcome measurement tool.
While outcome measurement tools are not diagnostic tools, a patient’s responses will illuminate some of the problems they are experiencing. This may assist you in reaching a diagnosis. Like any clinical instrument, clinicians using outcome measurement tools should become familiar with their appropriate use and interpretation.
Two commonly used and easily administered outcome measurement tools are available to download below. These can be printed and given to patients to complete or read to them and their responses recorded.
The K10 consists of 10 items and measures non-specific psychological distress. It takes about 2 mins for the patient to complete and about 1 minute to score. Basic scoring information is included in the download document. Higher scores indicate increased distress and greater likelihood that a person is experiencing a mental disorder. Further information relating to the K10 is available at www.gpcare.org .
The DASS 21 is an abbreviated version of the DASS 42 and measures depression, anxiety and stress. It takes approximately 2 – 4 minutes for the patient to complete. Scores for each subscale (Depression, Anxiety, Stress) can be obtained quickly by summing and doubling the scores for each of the items that make up the subscale. The scoring template makes it easy to identify which questions contribute to each subscale. (DASS Courtesy of : www.psy.unsw.edu.au/dass)
The maximum score for each subscale is 42. Higher scores indicate increased difficulty in that area. The DASS is designed primarily to provide a continuum of severity rather than to focus on the assignment of discrete severity categories such as ‘mild’, ‘moderate’ or ‘severe’. The DASS therefore is most useful to identify areas of difficulty experienced by patients and to track progress across the three areas.
What does the GP need to do?
(1) Establish if your patient is experiencing an eligible disorder and would benefit from a structured approach to treatment.
(2) Complete a GP Mental Health Care Plan. (GP Claim Item Number 2710)
There is no set format for this however there are some minimum requirements. Please click here to download an easy-to-use template developed by the Department of Health and Ageing that meets these minimum requirements.
The referral must be written, signed and dated but there is no set format. It may be helpful to include part or all of the GP Mental Health Care Plan as part of the referral. This initial referral will enable the patient to receive Medicare rebates for their first 6 sessions with the psychologist.
(4) Review progress against the identified goals by conducting a GP Mental Health Care Review (GP Claim Item Number 2712).
This is usually conducted after the patient has received their first six sessions with a psychologist or at other relevant times. The LIFE psychologist will send a progress report to assist in your review. Based on your review any required adjustments to the GP Mental Health Care Plan can be made. Following this the patient can continue their next six sessions with the psychologist.
Helpful Downloads for Doctors
GP Mental Health Care Plan Flow Chart
The flowchart (developed by the Australian Divisions of General Practice) illustrates the process for developing a GP Mental Health Care Plan including information relating to the use of Mental Health Medicare Items
GP Mental Health Care Plan Template
To complete a GP Mental Health Care Plan simply download this template and enter your patient’s information. The template was developed by the Department of Health and Ageing and can be freely copied or modified as required.
Better Access to Mental Health Care Orientation Manual
The Orientation Manual is an excellent reference and provides clear information for GPs relating to the Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative. All relevant information is covered including patient eligibility, GP Mental Health Care Plans, review and consultation, billing, education and training, referral options and resources and tools.