GPs helping guide patients to the best specialists

17 Aug 2017

Amidst the current media focus on out-of-pocket specialist fees, Australians have been reminded by AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, that GPs play an important gatekeeper role for the health system by providing invaluable advice in helping choose a specialist.

A Senate Committee is currently investigating the value and affordability of private health insurance and out-of-pocket medical costs, and this was recently addressed in an article in The Conversation. Dr Gannon appeared on ABC Radio Adelaide this week to speak about out-of-pocket expenses for patients. He stated that the role of GPs should not be forgotten as their expertise can identify the best specialist for a patient, taking into account personal circumstances and finances.

“Underpinning everything is the role of our general practitioners. And I think that they are the absolute champions of health prevention, in terms of deciding exactly who does and doesn't need to address the fact that the patient walks in, having already decided that they need to see a GP. GPs play a very important gatekeeper role in our health system,” Dr Gannon said.

“If you've got time to spend with your GP, if you've got your own trusted GP, they're pretty clever. They get to know you. They get to know which specialists might fit with your personality. They get to know which specialists bulk bill. Which specialists work in which hospitals. Which operations can be done where.

“They know this information and if you really want to talk about value in the health system, it's having a good relationship with your GP. A lot of the time, a good GP will save you a visit to the specialist to start with, and a lot of the time they'll work out who the right specialist for you is.”

Full transcript.