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Eating disorders first mental illness to be assigned a MBS diagnostic category

In an Australian first, eating disorders (ED) represent the first mental health disorder to be assigned specific item numbers under the revised Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) scheme, commencing November 1, 2019.1

This development has sparked an urgent call by ED experts to the Australian health workforce to upskill in the management of these complex illnesses.

Announcement of the pending MBS revisions, coinciding with World Mental Health Day today (Thursday 10 October) and an article just published in MJA Insight, marks an important milestone for the million Australians living with an ED who will gain access to 40 rebated psychological therapy sessions and 20 dietetic sessions (an increase of 30 and 15 sessions, respectively).1,2

According to MJA Insight article author and Director of InsideOut Institute for Eating Disorders (IOI),  Dr Sarah Maguire, EDs are curable for many if a person receives the correct treatment, at the right time, with access to an appropriately trained multidisciplinary team, including, at minimum, a medical practitioner, a psychologist, and in most cases, a dietitian.3

“Both national and international guidelines recommend a skilled multidisciplinary treatment approach for EDs, and access to between 40-50 sessions, in order to achieve satisfactory remission.4,5

“Prior to the upcoming revision of the MBS, patients living with EDs, and all other mental health disorders, have had access to just 10 rebated psychological sessions through Medicare,”2 said Dr Maguire.

“While EDs have one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness,6 concerningly, more than 70 per cent of people living with EDs do not receive treatment,7 and of those who do, only 20 per cent receive evidence-based treatment.”8

Under the new scheme, diagnosis by a general practitioner and mental health practitioner will be required, in recognition of the significant physical burden imposed by these psychiatric illnesses, which necessitates integrated treatment.3

Research suggests most health practitioners feel ill-equipped to treat EDs9 and targeted healthcare professional training is required to address the needs of this patient group.3,9

“As a major eating disorder workforce development provider, IOI delivers a range of online, evidence-based eLearning training packages.

“I therefore urge any healthcare professional working with people living with EDs, to consider upskilling, in order to best support their patients,” said IOI Senior Clinical Dietitian, Gabriella Barclay.

About InsideOut Institute

InsideOut Institute (IOI) is Australia’s national institute for research and clinical excellence in EDs. IOI is housed in the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney, in a partnership with Sydney Local Health District. With resources, rigour and perseverance, IOI aims to transform the treatment landscape for EDs in Australia, and to ultimately, find a cure.

About IOI’s eLearning Suite

IOI is a leader in developing and disseminating innovative training for health professionals in the identification, assessment and treatment of people with ED.

As a major ED workforce development provider, IOI delivers a suite of online, evidence-based eLearning training packages which, to date, have trained thousands of clinicians nationwide.

IOI’s eSuite currently has seven evidence-based programs available, with another three programs set to launch later this year.

To register for an IOI ED training module, join IOI’s Treatment Services Database or to learn more about EDs, head to insideoutinstitute.org.au.


References available on request.

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