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In the August 2016 Supervisor Survey, members indicated that they would like GPSA to provide more information on relevant government policy. Policy News attempts to address your identified need. Feedback welcome!

Thanks to all those who have been emailing their thoughts on these issues.

Your comments have been passed on to the Board and/or taken into account in the drafting of submissions on these policy issues.

Since October, GPSA has provided a response to the AGPT Policy Review and provided a submission to the AHPRA Revalidation discussion paper. You can find it on the AHPRA website here:

Medicare stats and Senate Estimates

Interesting revelations in Senate Estimates revealed that only 65% of patients had all of their GP visits bulk-billed during the last financial year.

81.5% of claims for item 23 consults were bulk-billed in 2015-16. The data show a steady increase from 74.9% in 2006-7. The distribution across states, however, shows rates from 60% in ACT to 88.6% in NSW. Tasmania shows the only fall since 2014-15 (down to 76.7% from 77.3%).

The proportion of the population accessing GP services has fallen for the first time since 2010, down 0.3% to 89.3% in 2015-16 from 89.6% in 2014-15. It’s not the first time it’s happened (the last time was 2006-7) but it’s the first time for quite a while.

And how much do you earn from bulk-billing? Apparently an average full-time bulk-billing GP earned $338,524 from Medicare. That’s up from $312,000 in 2011-12.

Further information and the full list of questions and answers can be found here.

Introducing Competition and Informed User Choice into Human Services: Identifying Sectors for Reform

The Productivity Commission has been busy dealing with all things data-related!.

This report follows one released in September and narrows down the lucky sectors where reforms are being recommended for prioritization.

These are:

Social housing
Public hospitals
End-of-life care services
Public dental services
Services in remote Indigenous communities and
Government-commissioned family and community services.
According to the report, these are the areas that could deliver the biggest bang-for-the-buck in outcomes for users.

Other key findings are:

Introducing greater competition, contestability and informed user choice can improve the effectiveness of many, but not all, human services
Competition between services providers can drive innovation and create incentives for providers to be more responsive to the needs and preferences of users.
Direct government provision of services will be the best way to improve the wellbeing of individuals and families for some services
Government stewardship is critical to ensure quality, suitability, accessibility and support for consumer choices
High quality data are central to improving effectiveness of human services.
This issue is big and the final report will be submitted to the Australian Government in October 2017.

We’ll keep you updated, but just in case you want to read the November report, you can access it here:

Draft National Infrastructure Roadmap

Closes: 16 January 2017

This is an important national initiative that identifies 9 research priority areas around which infrastructure for the next decade will be aimed.

The 9 priority areas are:

Digital data and e-research platforms
Platforms for humanities, arts and social sciences (HASS)
Characterization
Advanced fabrication and manufacturing
Astronomy and advanced physics
Environmental systems
Biosecurity
Complex biology
Therapeutic development.
A number of these (particularly therapeutic development and complex biology) have direct relevance to medicine. Makes for some interesting holiday reading!

Follow the roadmap here.

National Digital Health Strategy

Closes: 31 January 2017

No! This is not a strategy about your fingers! It is about the future of digital health in Australia!

The new Australian Digital Health Agency (good thing it’s not a Directorate) is consulting with 3 groups (apparently they’re separate groups):

Healthcare consumers, carers and families
Clinicians and other healthcare workers and healthcare providers
Researchers, scientists, academics and innovators
How do individuals want to engage with digital services to have access to the information they need to improve their health and wellbeing?

How would healthcare workers like to use data technology to support them to make better treatment decisions?

How can the science, research and teaching community better partner with industry to develop digital health solutions that support individuals and healthcare providers?

If you feel inspired, go to the website and complete the survey – apparently it takes 15-10 mins to complete. Complete the survey here.

I didn’t get to complete the survey because when I wanted to go to the previous page, it hung on me…

The survey is anonymous, we’re assured. However, they do say they might use the information you submit to contact you…..

If you would prefer to provide your comments on any of these issues over the phone, either identified or de-identified through GPSA, please contact:

Joan Burns, Senior Policy Advisor, GPSA

0472 520 611