AEPs working in Health Care
Information for medical and health care professionals
Current evidence supports physical activity and exercise as an integral treatment for both primary and secondary prevention and the treatment of chronic disease. The allied health profession, accredited exercise physiologists (AEPs) play an important, irreplaceable role as physical activity and exercise specialists within healthcare. Many AEPs work within multidisciplinary teams, onsite at a general practice; whilst others provide local services for patients referred by specialists, healthcare professionals and hospital-based services or programs.
An AEP can be an integral part of a general practice setting. Some work as part of the healthcare team, onsite at the practice, whilst others support the general practitioner and practice nurse, by providing local services for:
- patients at high-risk of developing or currently with chronic disease;
- patients at risk of developing, or currently with existing injury, that require rehabilitation to improve physical function; and
- patients in need of lifestyle change through risk factor modification, at all levels of readiness to behavioural change.
“Do you have a patient with diabetes needing assistance to improve management of their bgl? A patient with depression wanting to improve their symptoms; an elderly person with osteoporosis needing to reduce their risk of falls; or worker with a lower back injury needing assistance to get back into the workforce, then you should consider referring them to an accredited exercise physiologist“
Accredited exercise physiologists provide services for patients in a variety of settings:
- Screening and risk stratifying to ensure the safety and appropriateness of exercise and physical activity interventions;
- Assessing ‘movement’ capacity in people of all ages and levels of health, well-being or fitness;
- Development of safe, effective individualised exercise interventions;
- Provision of health education, advice and support to enhance health and well-being;
- Provision of physical activity advice and clinical exercise prescription, for those at high-risk of developing, or with existing chronic health conditions;
- Provision of rehabilitation and advice for patients following the acute stage of injury, surgical intervention, or during recovery to restore functional capacity and well-being; and
- The above tasks may occur at any level of primary, secondary or tertiary health care, and may include employment or volunteer work at an individual, community or population health level through various employers or industries.
Referring patients to an accredited exercise physiologist
The “Find an Exercise Physiologist” on-line search facility can assist you with finding an accredited exercise physiologists (AEP) to refer your patients that require physical activity or exercise interventions. The “Find an Exercise Physiologist” tool has various search options one of these options is to search by the Division of General Practice, which allows general practitioners or practice nurses to obtain specific contact and professional details of all practicing Exercise Physiologists within their division.
To further assist you in referring patients to an accredited exercise physiologist, ESSA has developed a referral form. The form is available in three (3) formats including Medical Director and Best Practice.
The consultation cost for AEP services varies within the workforce. The Australian Government has made available a number of subsidies under Medicare Australia, The Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Lifestyle Modification Program Funding, as well as WorkCover recognising AEP services in a variety of states. Patients are also able to attract private health fund rebates from a number of private health insurers.
Initiatives that support general practitioners in referring to AEPs
Under the Chronic Disease Management Program, Medicare rebates are available for patients with chronic and complex care needs on referral from their GP. Additional rebates for patients diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes under the Type 2 Diabetes Group Services Initiative and for patients identifying as Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander are also accessible.
Department of Veterans’ Affairs
Entitled Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) clients may be referred to an AEP for clinically necessary Exercise Physiology treatment by their General Practitioner on a valid D904 referral form.
To find out more about these initiatives, and download the required referral paperwork visit the DVA website.
AEPs provide functional exercise for the purpose of returning an injured worker to suitable work activities; through tailored exercise prescription suitable to the worker’s injury or work demands, and/or specific work activities such as increasing movement capacity.