ANZAED recently conducted a pilot survey asking for your experiences with the new eating disorders MBS items. Thank you to all of you who responded. Your participation in the survey meant that we were able to elicit important data that we included in a formal report with recommendations to the Department of Health (DoH) as part of our review of the MBS Items. We recently submitted our formal response and we are pleased to report that it was received positively. We are now pressing for a larger, more comprehensive survey to be undertaken and supported by the DoH. 

Key findings of the pilot survey included: 

  • There was widespread support for the MBS Items in improving access to an appropriate dose of treatment.
  • Views on whether the MBS Items ensured access to competent care were mixed.
  • Respondents cited their appreciation of the MBS Items in allowing treatment to be provided at the appropriate intensity and duration with the support of a multi-disciplinary care team.
  • Concerns were raised regarding GPs having a lack of knowledge about eating disorders and in initiating the Eating Disorder Plan.
  • There were also concerns about accessing psychiatrists and paediatricians with appropriate expertise.
  • Another frequently raised issue was the concern that the MBS Items are being accessed by practitioners with little eating disorder knowledge or who do not apply empirically supported treatments. 
Overall we found that the survey responses indicated that the MBS Items have revolutionalised eating disorder treatment in Australia, meeting the treatment access needs of consumers and carers. The infographic below provides a more comprehensive snapshot of the survey results.
This feedback has also resulted in ANZAED committing to several internal actions:
  • Researching the development of an Evidence-Based Treatment Decision Tool summarising evidence-based treatments supported by the Plan, and includes a decision-tree to assist clinical decision making.
  • Marketing of ANZAED’s Online Consultation Program.
  • National List of Clinical Supervisors.
Recommendations ANZAED provided to the Department of Health:
  • Inclusion of ARFID in the Eating Disorder Plan.
  • Consideration of linking practitioner eligibility to credentialing.
  • Review of supports to GPs in managing the Eating Disorder Plan.
  • Extension of the COVID-19 Telehealth Items.
Recommended Next Step – Phase 2 Evaluation:
In regards to the ongoing review of the Eating Disorder Plan MBS Items, ANZAED recommends that a phase 2 research evaluation should take place and carried out in November 2020 (the 12-month milestone). This would evaluate whether the Items are performing as intended for practitioners, consumers and carers, and the government; and providing the impetus for action where gaps are identified. The phase 1 pilot study that informed this report has provided important information but had several limitations. These included a relatively small sample size and inadequate coverage of consumers and carers. We recommend DoH funds a larger nationally-representative survey of consumers, carers, referrers and clinicians with key areas of enquiry including acceptability of the MBS Items for all interest groups, impact of implementing a credentialing system, and further exploration of ongoing support needs across all interest groups. 

ANZAED would like to thank Deb Mitchison, Caitlin McMaster and Jacinta Sherlock for assisting us on this project.