Deeble Brief No 38: Optimising healthcare through specialist referral reforms

Samantha Prime

The specialist referral system is a key operational component of the Australian health system. It is designed to manage access to subsidised specialist services and remunerate MBS Providers at referred service rates. It is also designed to affirm the central role of primary healthcare services.

The regulatory requirement for consumers to obtain repeat referrals when already under the care of a specialist has received limited scrutiny since the 1970s.

Bringing the referral rules in line with contemporary health needs and service structures will require a well-co-ordinated, effective and efficient referral system that facilitates the evidence based and linear transfer of care from one clinician to another within a highly interoperable and collaborative healthcare system.