Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Privately practising nurse practitioners’ provision of care subsidised through the Medicare Benefits Schedule and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in Australia: results from a national survey

Jane Currie A B , Mary Chiarella A and Thomas Buckley A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Sydney Nursing School, University of Sydney, 88 Mallett Street, Camperdown, NSW 2050, Australia. Email: mary.chiarella@sydney.edu.au; tom.buckley@sydney.edu.au

B Corresponding author. Email: jane.currie@sydney.edu.au

Australian Health Review - https://doi.org/10.1071/AH17130
Submitted: 17 December 2016  Accepted: 8 September 2017   Published online: 16 October 2017

Abstract

Objective Since legislative changes in 2010, certain health care services provided by privately practising nurse practitioners (PPNPs) in Australia have been eligible for reimbursement under the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). The aim of the present study was to describe survey results relating to the care provided by PPNPs subsidised through the MBS and PBS.

Methods PPNPs in Australia were invited to complete an electronic survey exploring their practice activities. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics and 95% confidence intervals were calculated for percentages where relevant. Free text data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results Seventy-three PPNPs completed the survey. The most common form of payment reported (34%; n = 25) was payment by direct fee for service (MBS rebate only, also known as bulk billing). Seventy-five per cent of participants (n = 55) identified that there were aspects of care delivery not adequately described and compensated by the current nurse practitioner (NP) MBS item numbers. 87.7% (n = 64) reported having a PBS prescriber authorisation number. Themes identified within the free text data that related to the constraints of the MBS and PBS included ‘duplication of services’ and ‘level of reimbursement’.

Conclusion The findings of the present study suggest that PPNPs are providing subsidised care through the MBS and PBS. The PPNPs in the present study reported challenges with the current structure and breadth of the NP MBS and PBS items, which restrict them from providing complete episodes of patient care.

What is known about the topic? Since the introduction of legislative changes in 2010, services provided by PPNPs in Australia have been eligible for subsidisation through the MBS and PBS.

What does this paper add? This paper provides data on PPNPs’ provision of care subsidised through the MBS and PBS.

What are the implications for practitioners? Eligibility to provide care subsidised through the MBS and PBS has enabled the establishment of PPNP services. The current breadth and structure of the NP MBS and PBS item numbers have restricted the capacity of PPNPs to provide complete episodes of patient care.

Additional keywords: collaborative arrangement, nurse-led clinics, primary health care.


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