From 1 November 2021, patients with chronic bowel inflammation will be able to claim a Medicare rebate for non-invasive laboratory tests, reducing the need for diagnostic endoscopy and colonoscopy procedures.
The Morrison Government is listing faecal calprotectin testing to diagnose inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).
Its use means that fewer patients will require diagnostic endoscopy and colonoscopy, with faecal calprotectin shown to be an effective, safer and significantly cheaper alternative.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis – collectively known as IBD – are chronic diseases that require complex and long-term care.
Two new items will be listed on the MBS – one to test faecal calprotectin levels for diagnostic purposes as requested by a medical practitioner and another for follow-up testing for diagnostic confirmation when requested by a specialist gastroenterologist.
Patients presenting to a medical practitioner must have been experiencing symptoms suggestive of inflammatory or functional bowel disease for more than six weeks, be under 50 years of age, and have had infectious causes excluded to be eligible for the MBS rebated test, which will assist in distinguishing inflammatory from functional bowel disease.
A further test can be requested by a specialist gastroenterologist when an initial test is inconclusive.
The new items have been recommended by the expert Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) and the Australian Government has agreed with the recommendations.
Consultation has been undertaken with key stakeholders, clinical experts and providers, and consumer health representatives as part of the MSAC process.