Five reasons to register your practice for MyMedicare

Medicare card
  27 July 2023  Dr Jeannie Knapp – NWMPHN GP clinical advisor   

MyMedicare is Australia’s new voluntary patient registration model. It aims to strengthen the relationship between patients, general practice, GPs and primary care teams, improving equitable access for priority population groups.

Supported by recommendations from the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce, the 2023-24 Federal Budget invested $19.7 million over 4 years into the scheme. Another $39.8 million will be delivered over 4 years to support systems delivery through Services Australia.

Since MyMedicare was announced there has been considerable speculation regarding details and timing. NWMPHN looks forward very much to these matters being more fully defined by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care and other stakeholders, but at this stage we can cite only what has so far been confirmed.

Nevertheless – and with much more to come – the case for general practices and patients signing up to the scheme is strong, with significant benefits set to accrue to both.

What we know so far

MyMedicare patients will have access to:

  • greater continuity of care with their registered practice, improving health outcomes
  • longer MBS-funded Level C and D telephone calls with their usual general practice
  • triple bulk billing incentive for longer Level C, D and E MBS telehealth consultations for those under 16, pensioners, and concession card holders.

MyMedicare practices will have access to:

  • more information about regular patients, making it easier to tailor services to fit their needs
  • the new longer telehealth items linked to MyMedicare outlined above
  • the General Practice Aged Care Access Incentive, starting from 1 August 2024, which will support regular health assessments, care plans and regular GP visits for people in residential aged care homes
  • starting from 2024-25, new blended funding payments to support better care in the community for people with complex, chronic disease who frequently attend hospitals
  • from November 2024, chronic disease management items linked to a patient’s registration, to support continuity of care for people with chronic and complex conditions.

(Patients who are not registered will still be able to receive chronic disease management items from their usual GP.)

The Department is urging practices that provide services to patients who would benefit from the new MyMedicare-linked MBS long telehealth services, or that provide care to people in residential aged care, to prioritise registering in the next 3 months.

Patient registration will kick off on 1 October 2023. Practices can follow these steps to register now.

Here are 5 reasons why you should register your practice and patients for MyMedicare:

  • If you don’t register your patients another practice might. While the initial “carrots” for registration may not be too enticing, this is likely just the beginning of a push towards fuller patient enrolment. Bigger carrots that enable improved continuity of care will follow, such as chronic care items linked to a patient’s registration in MyMedicare (from November 2024). Already having your regular patients registered prepares your practice for this shift.
  • There might be significant financial benefits to your practice. Adding up the current announcements only, and not factoring in any possible future ones, there are potentially several thousands of dollars in extra revenue available.
  • Evidence supports better health outcomes for enrolled populations. As health care providers we already know that continuity of care improves health outcomes for individuals and the same applies to populations. “The 10 Building Blocks of High-Performing Primary Care , a paper published in the journal Annals of Family Medicine, shows that enrolment is a building block for good patient outcomes and high quality primary care, along with leadership, data-driven improvement and team-based care. A gentle shift towards formalising the existing doctor-patient relationship might shift the needle on outcomes, especially for patients with chronic illnesses.
  • Evidence supports better health outcomes with team-based care for chronic disease management. The current fee-for-service funding model can be limiting when providing team-based care. A gentle uncoupling of funding for chronic disease can allow flexibility of models of care and might lead to better outcomes for our patients.
  • Multidisciplinary teams in general practice can support all team members to work to the top of their scope. GPs are the primary provider and leader in continuity of care for patients but there is a GP workforce shortage, and an under-utilised supporting workforce available. More members of the team can take the pressure off GPs while supporting quality patient care.

Together with other reforms, MyMedicare is an important element in what is a major overhaul of the heath care sector.

NWMPHN is committed to providing updates as soon as new details emerge and are confirmed, as well as expert analysis of how changes will impact general practice.

For more information about the roll-out of MyMedicare, see this training module produced by Services Australia. (An accessible version is available from the same link.)