The Medicare rebate system should be reformed to enable General Practitioners to spend more time helping patients to avoid preventable health problems, the AMA said today.
AMA Federal President, Dr Andrew Pesce, used General Practice Week to highlight the important role GPs play in preventive health care.
"A recently-released Australian Institute of Health and Welfare/University of Sydney report showed an increasing number of patients who present to GPs are overweight or obese and more people are requesting check-ups," Dr Pesce said
"GPs are also spending more time advising patients with diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other chronic conditions on how to stay fit and healthy.
"A visit to a GP with a health problem can also be a good opportunity for patients to receive advice about their lifestyle and health needs.
"Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) rebates perversely encourage shorter consultations. But it has been shown that longer consultations can include preventive health messages and deliver better outcomes.
"The Minister for Health and Ageing has promised Medicare reform and simplification but the reforms are yet to be put in place."
Dr Pesce said the MBS should also support practice nurses to provide brief preventive health follow-ups on behalf of a patient's doctor.