Focused Psychological Strategies for Psychologists, Medical Practitioners, Occupational Therapists and Social Workers.

Over 45% of all Australians will experience mental illness at some stage in their life, yet over half of those affected never seek treatment. (Black Dog Institute)

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Negative stigmas and geographical isolation are just some of the barriers that exist for accessing mental health care. 

The Australian government has recognised this, and has created Medicare rebates specifically for mental health treatment via telehealth, to try and increase access. 

It is understood that a psychologist might not always be an available option for patients, and therefore mental health treatment can also be given by other medical practitioners, occupational therapists and social workers.

To claim the rebates for the following items numbers for medical practitioners, occupational therapists and social workers, the health professional must have the appropriate training  to provide focussed psychological strategies.

The MBS can be confusing and time consuming to comprehend. That is why we have detailed the available mental health item numbers below, sorted by profession for your easy reference.

Please note, to claim any of the following rebates, the attendance must be by video conference, with both an audio and video link being established.

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Currently, occupational therapists, clinical psychologists, psychologists, medical practitioners (excluding GP, specialists and consultant physicians), occupational therapists and social workers can access Medicare rebates for telehealth through the Better Access Scheme.

As of November 2018, all sessions in a patient’s mental health care plan (up to 10 individual AND 10 group per year) are eligible for telehealth Medicare rebates.

The services listed below all count towards the patient’s yearly total of 10 individual and 10 group sessions.

  • Occupational Therapists

Item number

Item Description

Revenue

80126

≥ 20 but <50 minutes.

$52.95

80136

>50 minutes.

$74.80

80146

Group therapy (6-10 patients).

≥ 60 minutes.

$19.00

For all of these item numbers:

  • the patient must be referred by a medical practitioner
  • the patient must not be an admitted hospital or hospital in the home patient.
  • the patient must be located within a telehealth eligible area (Modified Monash Model areas 4-7); and
  • the patient must be at least 15 kilometres by road from the occupational therapist at the time of the attendance.

 

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Here is an example of how the Better Access Scheme can work:

Janet Tindall is an occupational therapist working at the local primary school in Port Augusta, SA, Modified Monash Model area 4. She loves working with children and young adults, and has taken a keen interest in the mental health of her patients. She has recently completed the necessary training to provide focussed psychological strategies to those in need.

Janet receives a call from the concerned mother of 8-year-old Daniella, who is exhibiting symptoms of anxiety and depression. Daniella was a patient of Janet’s during her primary school years as she had motor neuron disease. She has a good relationship with Janet and would prefer to receive therapy through her.

Daniella now lives in Melrose, SA, located in Modified Monash Model area 5, a 50-minute drive from Janet. Luckily, both Daniella and Janet live in eligible telehealth areas, and can engage in mental health treatment via telehealth.  This saves Daniella and his family travelling a significant distance each week, and ensures greater continuity of care.

Their telehealth session goes for 50 minutes, and the following Medicare item is billed:

Item 80136: (85% of Scheduled Fee) =$74.80

Total Reimbursement:  $74.80

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single mum

  • Psychologists and Clinical Psychologists

Item number

Item Description

Revenue

80001

Psychological assessment and therapy for a mental disorder by a clinical psychologist.

>30 but <50 minutes.

$84.80

80011

Psychological assessment and therapy for a mental disorder by a clinical psychologist.

≥ 50 minutes.

$124.50

80021

Group therapy (6-10 patients).

Psychological therapy for a mental disorder by a clinical psychologist.

 ≥ 60 minutes.

$31.65

80101

Providing focussed psychological strategies services for an assessed mental disorder by a psychologist.

>20 but <50 minutes.

$60.10

80111

Providing focussed psychological strategies services for an assessed mental disorder by a psychologist.

>50 minutes.

$84.80

80121

Group therapy (6-10 patients).

Providing focussed psychological strategies services for an assessed mental disorder by a psychologist.

 ≥ 60 minutes.

$21.65

For all of these item numbers:

  • the patient must be referred by a medical practitioner
  • the patient must not be an admitted hospital or hospital in the home patient.
  • the patient must be located within a telehealth eligible area (Modified Monash Model areas 4-7); and
  • the patient must be at least 15 kilometres by road from the clinical psychologist/psychologist at the time of the attendance.

Here is an example of how the Better Access Scheme can work:

Rachel is a single mother of two young children aged 3 and 5. She lives in the small town of Ravenswood, Qld, located in area 6 of the Modified Monash Model. She recently received a Mental Health Treatment Plan and referral from her GP to see a psychologist about managing her diagnosis of depression.

Her GP recommends Monica Brown, a bulk-billing psychologist in Charters Towers, Modified Monash Model area 4, that specialises in treating depression. Rachel wants to see Monica, but lives a 60-minute drive away. Between balancing her sons’ schedules and her work, she does not have the time to make the weekly trip.

Luckily, both Rachel and Monica are located in telehealth eligible areas and as part of the better access scheme, Rachel can receive treatment via telehealth, from the comfort of her own home.

For each 55-minute session held, the following Medicare item is billed:

Item 80111: (85% of Scheduled Fee) = $84.80

Total Reimbursement = $84.80

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