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[8 min read] Decline in GP income calls for skills upgrade
There has been a decline in the average hourly income for general practitioners as other specialists see a healthy rise in theirs, highlighting the need for GPs to diversify their skills and seek a field of subspecialisation.
A recent report conducted by MABEL (Medicine in Australia: Balancing Employment and Life) and published in Australian Doctor found that GP earnings have fallen for the second year running.
GP income peaked in 2015 at $104 an hour. But for the past two years, it has been falling and now
sits at $101 per hour. Meanwhile hourly earnings for non-GP specialists have risen from $149 in 2008 to $171 in 2017.
The graphs below are based on the results of a longitudinal survey of more than 8,000 GPs and other specialists, presenting earnings before tax but after practice costs.
How can GPs boost their income?
The key to boosting income for general practitioners may be to subspecialise in high-demand services that complement those you already offer.
Australia is the skin cancer capital of the world, with two in three Australians developing the disease by the age of 70. Each year, there are over 1 million GP consultations for skin cancer – so your patients are already coming to you with these concerns.
It is important to be able to address your patients’ skin cancer concerns to both optimise their outcomes and add a reliable source of revenue to your practice. When you lack the confidence to diagnose or treat skin cancer, you may be forced to refer patients to specialists such as dermatologists, which can be a costly service for the patient, or to the public hospital system where they may wait several months to be seen.
Reducing referrals by providing these essential, high-demand services in your own practice helps to build a sustainable income while optimising patient outcomes. There are a host of Medicare item numbers you could be billing for by providing services such as skin cancer checks, biopsies, excisions and surgical procedures. These are essential services for patients all across Australia with a tremendous skin cancer rate and limited skin specialists available to help them.
Having the confidence to diagnose and treat patients’ skin cancer concerns may be the answer to establishing a sustainable income source for GPs in Australia. You just need the skills to get started.
The HealthCert Skin Cancer Screening short online course provides GPs with fundamental knowledge on how to screen and identify suspicious skin lesions in a busy general practice. The video lectures are based on university quality-assured skin cancer certificate courses which have been completed by thousands of medical professionals worldwide. HealthCert highly recommends further skin cancer training upon completion of the short course.