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Uptake of Medicare chronic disease items in Australia by general practice nurses and Aboriginal health workers

      Summary

      The Australian health care system is currently in a state of reform and there is increasing pressure to provide care in community settings. Rising costs, demands and population ageing underscore the importance of adopting models of health care delivery to address changing epidemiological patterns. Population ageing and the increase of chronic conditions challenge models based on acute care. Changes to the Medicare benefits schedule have facilitated the development of a range of expanded nursing services in the general practice setting. In particular, item number 10997 was introduced to reimburse practice nurses and Aboriginal health workers (AHWs) for providing monitoring and support to people with a chronic disease for and on behalf of a general practitioner (GP). The uptake of Medicare Item 100997 from 2007 to 2009, to monitor chronic disease interventions provided by general practice nurses has increased dramatically. The rate of uptake of Item 100997 has not been consistent across States and Territories, even allowing for population distributions. Exploring reasons for these regional variations and linking uptake of Medicare Item numbers to patient outcomes is important in developing the nursing role in Australian general practice.

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