Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians experience high rates of chronic disease. MBS item 715 or 715 health check assists with early intervention and prevention of chronic disease. 715 Health checks are available for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Page last updated: 15 January 2020

Eligibility for 715 items

A specific health check is available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The 715 health check helps to identify risk factors for chronic disease to manage the good health of the patient.

  • Available to every Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander person annually, with a minimum claim period of 9 months.
  • Patients who self-identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander are eligible
  • Patients are eligible for up to 10 follow up services under MBS item 10987
  • Both MBS items 715 and 10987 can be bulk billed
  • Can be conducted by any general practice clinic or Aboriginal Medical Service.

Conducting the 715 health checks

A 715 health check should include an assessment of the patient’s physical, psychological and social wellbeing.

Key elements include:

  • information collection
  • overall assessment of the patient
  • recommending appropriate follow up care
  • advice and information to the patient
  • a record of the assessment
  • providing the patient, or their carer, with a copy of the assessment and follow up plan.

A Practice Nurse, Aboriginal Health Worker or Aboriginal Health Practitioner may assist with initial tests and medical history. A General Practitioner delivers the final assessment and recommends appropriate follow up care.

Follow up care

A 715 health check should identify a strategy for the patient’s good health. This could include follow up services or referrals. It may also include the individual actions the patient, or parent/carer, should take. 10 follow up items are claimable, per patient, per year.

This can include:

  • further examinations
  • access to counselling and lifestyle activities
  • prevention services for chronic conditions
  • clinical progress checks.
  • Patients must have completed a 715 to be eligible to claim 10987 follow up items. Patients may also be eligible for lower price or free prescription medicines. Closing the Gap PBS Co-payment information is available on the PBS website or through the enquiry line on 1800 222 032.

Closing the Gap PBS co-payment

Patients may also be eligible for the Closing the Gap PBS Co-payment Measure. Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people with a chronic disease (or at risk of a chronic disease) are eligible. It provides prescription medication at a lower price, or free of charge with a Health Care Card. Information is available on the PBS Online website, DHS website, or through the enquiry line on 1800 222 032.

Resources and further information

Resources are available for patients and health practitioners to download or order

Animation

Interview with Dr Mark Wenitong
Transcript Interview with Dr Mark Wenitong (Other 5 KB)

Clinical guidance on delivering a health assessment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients is available from the Royal Australian Clinic of General Practitioners.

To order resources, please email info@33creative.com.au

Medicare Liaison Officers

Medicare Liaison Officers undertake cultural training. They work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and health services to:

  • provide information about MBS items available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients;
  • provide training to health service staff about Indigenous health care plans;
  • increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians’ enrolments in Medicare;
  • ensure correct claiming of Medicare benefits;
  • provide support and advice about new Medicare initiatives; and
  • represent and promote Medicare programs and services at local Indigenous forums and events.

The Department of Human Services website contains further information about Medicare Liaison officers. This includes a list of MBS items for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients.