The study was part of the Serious and Continuing Illness Polcy and Practice Study, funded by an NHMRC program grant and carried out by researchers at The Australian National University, to find out who was using the plans, which were initially introduced by the Federal Government in 2000.
Photo by: Joey Parsons
Associate Director of the Menzies Centre for Health Policy at the ANU Laurann Yen said GP management plans were available to coordinate care for people with chronic or complex illness so that patients were treated under a long-term strategy.
“Instead of being managed on a one-off basis, the plans provide a framework for management of ongoing chronic illness,” she said.
“What we found was that the most vulnerable people or those who needed them the most were accessing the plans from their GPs, however our research also suggested that not enough people were using them.
“The report shows that where there is good evidence for the effectiveness of care planning like there is for diabetes, they are more likely to be used with almost 50 per cent of people surveyed with diabetes having a management plan.
“On the other hand, fewer than 25 per cent of people with heart disease had a plan and evidence for the impact of GP management plans is not as strong or well established as it is for diabetes.”
The study is the first Australian report to link personal health information provided by 102,000 people from the 45andUP survey with Medicare data. Previously there was some speculation that they were not reaching the right people.
“It is only with the ability to connect information about a person’s health with information about their use of health services that it is possible to see who uses them and for what illnesses,” Ms Yen said.
Over 3 million plans are claimed every year, at a cost of $311 million.
The 45 and Up Study is the largest study of healthy ageing ever undertaken in the Southern Hemisphere, run by the Sax Institute at the University of Technology, Sydney. Over 265,000 men and women aged 45 and over across NSW have been recruited – about 10 per cent of this age group – and will have their health followed over the coming decades.