Medical practitioner services policy

Guidelines for medical services provided by medical practitioners to injured workers.

What WorkSafe will pay for

WorkSafe Victoria (WorkSafe) adopts the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items, explanations, definitions, rules and conditions for services provided by medical practitioners. When invoicing for medical services, medical practitioners are expected to adhere to the MBS rules unless otherwise specified by WorkSafe in this policy, other WorkSafe policies or the Medical service reimbursement rates.

This policy must be read in conjunction with the:

  • Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS)
  • relevant WorkSafe policies
  • Medical service reimbursement rates
  • information on reimbursement of medical services

In this policy, a medical practitioner means a person registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law Act 2009 to practise in the medical profession (other than a student) and includes a general practitioner (GP).

WorkSafe can pay:

  • the reasonable costs of treatment and services provided by a medical practitioner to a worker where required for an accepted workers' compensation claim for work-related injury or illness
  • the reasonable costs of treatment and services provided by a medical practitioner for workers* entitled to provisional payments on a claim that includes a mental injury
  • medical services using the Australian Medical Association (AMA) item numbers where there is a corresponding MBS item number and the MBS item number is listed in the Medical service reimbursement rates information booklet
  • medical reports that are authorised or requested by an agent and provided by a medical practitioner including Treating Health Practitioner (THP) reports requested by an Agent as specified in the THP reports policy.
  • medical practitioner participation in Return to Work (RTW) activities (RTW case Conferences, phone calls with employer, worksite visits) as specified in the Guide for General Practitioners and the Medical services – Medical practitioner return to work activities fee schedule
  • invoices that meet WorkSafe's Instructions for invoicing WorkSafe

*Eligible Victorian volunteers are also entitled to provisional payments.

Work-related injury

All references to 'work-related injury' on this page may also apply to workers who are entitled to provisional payments on a claim that includes a mental injury.

Definitions

In this policy a:

  • medical service includes attendance, examination or treatment of any kind by a medical practitioner in accordance with Victorian workers' compensation legislation (the legislation).
  • GP or medical practitioner RTW Case Conference is a meeting organised and coordinated by a WorkSafe Agent (Agent), approved occupational rehabilitation (OR) provider or the certifying GP or medical practitioner to improve communication and a worker's Return to Work (RTW) outcomes. It includes those involved in the RTW process, the injured worker, certifying GP (or medical specialist or psychiatrist), employer, Agent and approved OR provider, meeting to discuss return to work barriers and opportunities. Although it is preferred that case conferences are held face to face, they can also be held over the telephone or via video.
  • GP RTW phone call is a phone consultation between a certifying GP and an injured worker's employer. The purpose of the call is to discuss ways to support a worker stay at, or return to, work. The worker is invited to participate or give consent for the call.
  • GP worksite visit is a certifying GP visiting an injured worker's place of employment to discuss RTW opportunities with the employer, the injured worker and/or approved OR provider. These visits are agreed to by the employer and a report from the GP is not required.

General Guidelines for Medical Practitioners

WorkSafe expectations for the delivery of medical services

WorkSafe expects Medical Practitioners providing services to injured workers as part of the Victorian Workers' Compensation Scheme to integrate the principles of the Clinical Framework for the Delivery of Health Services (Clinical Framework) into their daily practice.

The Clinical Framework is based on the following principles:

  1. measure and demonstrate the effectiveness of treatment
  2. adopt a biopsychosocial approach
  3. empower the person to manage their injury
  4. implement goals focused on optimising function, participation and return to work
  5. base treatment on best available research evidence.

Medical Practitioner Return to Work Activities

WorkSafe recognises the important role that GPs play in the return to work process and encourages GPs to communicate with other stakeholders, such as the employer, Agent and/or approved Occupation Rehabilitation (OR) provider in helping an injured worker stay at or get back to work. WorkSafe can pay for GPs to:

  • organise, coordinate and participate in a RTW Case Conference
  • engage in a phone call with an employer to discuss RTW
  • conduct a Worksite Visit; and
  • use their consultation time to communicate with the injured worker about getting back to, or staying at work.

When will WorkSafe not pay for services provided by medical practitioners?

WorkSafe will not pay for:

  • services that are not in accordance with the MBS explanations, definitions, rules and conditions for services provided by medical practitioners unless otherwise specified by WorkSafe
  • the provision of hospital operation reports. These reports form part of the surgical service and are generated at the time of the surgical procedure
  • services for a condition that existed before the work related injury or illness or that is not a direct result of the work-related injury or illness
  • treatment or services where there is no objective evidence that a treatment or service is safe and effective
  • services that are of no clear benefit to the worker
  • non-attendance fees where a worker failed to attend
  • the cost of telephone calls and telephone consultations (except for GP RTW phone calls) between providers and workers and between other providers, including hospitals.
  • telehealth services when telehealth codes are not included in the medical service reimbursement rates
  • multiple consultations on a single day with the same worker without clinical justification and period of time between consultation
  • billing of multiple claims on the same day, when service is provided as a single service. If there are multiple claims, in principle, it should be billed to the most active claim
  • invoices for issue of certificate of capacity independent of or in addition to a consultation fee.
  • services provided outside of Australia without prior approval from the WorkSafe Agent
  • treatment provided to members of the immediate family of the medical practitioner

Does a medical practitioner require a WorkSafe provider number to provide medical services?

No, WorkSafe has adopted the Medicare Australia provider numbers and registration details for medical practitioners.

When can WorkSafe pay for medical services outside Australia?

Medical practitioners outside Australia must be lawfully qualified in that country for the services in question and the WorkSafe Agent must have:

  1. accepted liability for the claim, or
  2. confirmed the worker is entitled to provisional payments, and

Provided prior approval of the services to be provided outside Australia.

Can a medical practitioner refer a worker for allied health and other services?

A medical practitioner referral or request is not required for the following allied health services: chiropractic, dental, osteopathy, optometry, physiotherapy and podiatry.

However, WorkSafe can only pay for the reasonable costs of services provided by some allied healthcare providers or personal and household services if there is a written request/referral for these services from a medical practitioner.

Some of these services include: acupuncture, attendant care, dietetics, exercise physiology, household help,  naturopathy, occupational therapy, outreach, pharmacy, psychology, remedial massage, social work, speech pathology, and gym & swim programs.

Are medical practitioners able to disclose medical information about an injured worker?

WorkSafe seeks only to collect health information about the injured worker that relates to the medical services provided for their work-related injury or illness.

Under the legislation and relevant privacy legislation, WorkSafe and its Agents are permitted to collect personal and health information about an injured worker from medical practitioners. The worker's claim form contains an Authority to Release Medical Information signed by the worker. This authorises medical practitioners to give personal and health information relating to medical services and hospital services provided to the worker in connection with the worker's claim to WorkSafe and its Agents.

A Collection Statement on the form advises the injured worker that WorkSafe and its Agents may collect information about them from their medical practitioners and others, and that this information may be used to assist WorkSafe and its Agents to better manage claims.

Reports

WorkSafe or the Agent representative may request a THP report in order to determine a worker's eligibility for initial or ongoing entitlement or ongoing entitlements under Victorian workers compensation legislation (the legislation).

THP reports can also be requested from the Accident Compensation Conciliation Service (ACCS), the Medical Panel and other legal representatives in accordance with dispute resolution processes under the legislation. A medical report is only required when requested. In some cases, you may be contacted regarding a worker's treatment and services. This may be a customised report request and for information regarding the patient's history, diagnosis, prognosis, progress, outcomes, capacity for work and medical management as related to the work place injury.

Types of report which may be requested:

  • short report (up to 3 questions)
  • standard report (4 to 6 questions)
  • comprehensive report (7 to 10 questions)

The THP Reports Fee Schedule outlines the maximum amount WorkSafe will pay for reports requested by the Agents.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Prior approval is not required for an Agent to pay the reasonable costs of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) when:

  • referred by a medical practitioner, and
  • required to investigate symptoms or signs that have directly arisen from a work-related injury or illness.

Payment of MRI services as a diagnostic test by the Agent does not constitute acceptance of ongoing liability for any subsequent procedures or treatment requested as a result of the diagnostic findings.

Is prior approval required for medical services?

Prior approval from the Agent is required for elective surgical procedures including implantable pain therapy and prosthetic items.

Please see the following policies for more information

Surgical Procedures

For payment of surgical services, WorkSafe has adopted the MBS explanations, definitions, rules and conditions for services provided by medical practitioners with the following exceptions:

Invoicing information WorkSafe requires from medical practitioners

For details on the information required when submitting invoices for medical services, refer to the Instructions for invoicing WorkSafe.

WorkSafe's Billing Review Program

For details on WorkSafe's billing review program, refer to the Billing Review Program: Medical providers.

Suspended from providing services to WorkSafe clients

If WorkSafe gives notice to a provider advising them that they are suspended from providing services to WorkSafe clients, WorkSafe will notify the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency or other relevant professional body that regulates the provider, and Medicare Australia of the suspension and the grounds on which the suspension has been issued.