You might have come across the term ‘allied health’, or ‘allied health professional’. But who are these people and what do they do? Knowing about the allied healthcare services, and how they might help, can make a lot of difference to your health.
What are allied health professionals?
Allied health practitioners are trained professionals who are not doctors or dentists.
Nursing is not classified as an allied health profession but some nurses have additional qualifications, such as diabetes educators or mental health nurses, which means that they also provide allied health services.
Allied health professionals can help you manage your physical or mental health, through services that include diagnosis, treatment or rehabilitation.
Allied health practitioners include:
- art therapists
- Chinese medicine practitioners
- diabetes educators
- exercise physiologists
- genetic counsellors
- medical radiation practitioners
- mental health nurses
- music therapists
- occupational therapists
- rehabilitation counsellors
- social workers
- speech pathologists
How do I know which allied health professional is right for my care needs?
Your doctor can help you decide if an allied health service is right for you. Try to be open and honest about your needs.
You can also ask your allied health practitioner questions such as:
- What are the best options for me?
- How long will I need to see you until things get better?
- How much will my treatment cost?
- What are your qualifications?
- Will you let my doctor know what is happening here?
Once you’ve been for the first visit, you can decide whether or not they understand the reason you are there. And whether or not they can help you in a way that suits you.
How do I find an allied health professional?
Your doctor can refer you. You can talk to your family and friends.
The National Health Services Directory lists allied health professionals and other health services.
Almost all allied health practitioners must be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency to practise in Australia.
What can I expect when I visit an allied health professional?
They will ask you questions about your health and might examine you.
Your treatment will depend on your healthcare needs and your way of life.
Take along a notebook with your questions, your symptoms, other treatments you have had, and medications you are taking.
Costs and allied health services under Medicare
Medicare does not usually cover visits to allied health professionals. However, if you have a long-term health condition, you might be eligible for Medicare rebates. For you to get Medicare rebates, your doctor must prepare a ‘care plan’, such as a chronic disease management plan or a mental health treatment plan.
Some private health funds cover certain allied health services.
Ask about fees before you make your appointment.
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Last reviewed: April 2020