Referrals to Health Professionals

Referrals to Health Professionals

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Referrals to health professionals and services

During your prostate cancer experience your doctor or health professional may write a letter of referral (also called a referral) for you to different health professionals (medical specialists and allied health professionals) or to health services (pathology and radiology services). For many of these services Medicare will cover some or all the costs involved provided you have a referral to the specialist or health service.

What is a referral?

A referral is a letter or form from your doctor or health professional to another health professional or health service / facility with specialist expertise or services. What is in the letter will depend on your personal situation and the type of specialist you are being referred to. For example, if your GP thinks you might have prostate cancer, they may refer you to a urologist who can diagnose and treat prostate cancer. Similarly, your urologist may refer you to a physiotherapist to help you prepare for prostate surgery. 

How do you get a referral?

To get a referral letter, you will need to have an appointment with your doctor or health professional (nurse, physiotherapist, psychologist) to discuss your concerns. They may refer you to:

  • A medical specialist – e.g. urologist, oncologist, radiation oncologist, PCFA nurse
  • An allied health professional – e.g. exercise physiologist, physiotherapist, psychologist
  • Pathology services – for blood tests
  • Radiology services – imaging scans such as CT scans, x-rays, MRI and PET scans 

Tell your doctor or health professional if you have a particular health specialist who you want to be referred to. If you don’t know who to see, ask your doctor or health professional to recommend someone. 

Why do I need a referral?

You need a referral when specialist advice and tests are needed to diagnose or treat your prostate cancer. If you have a referral, Medicare is able to cover some or all of the costs involved because the required information is provided to validate the Medicare rebate. Your health insurance provider may also cover some of your costs, but you will need to call them to check.   

You may also need a referral to experts who can help you manage side effects and improve your wellbeing and quality of life (e.g. dietitian, physiotherapist, psychologist). Ask your doctor what services Medicare will cover and ask your health insurance provider what services they will cover. 

Learn more about managing the costs of procedures and treatment by following the link to Financial & practical support.