Looking For The Right Allied Health Practitioner

I recently read a great article called “How to choose a GP and health clinic” that was written by the The Age health editor Julia Medew.  Please click here to read the article.  

This was a great article and prompted me to think about what I believe is important when looking for the right Allied Health Practitioner.  As an osteopath myself, I am consulting with clients most days of the week and there are certain things that I try to uphold as a practitioner.  Often these are the same professional standards that I look for myself when seeing a practitioner as a client.

Tips To Finding The Right Practitioner

What Qualifications Does The Practitioner Have?

I will often research and see if the practitioner is registered with a governing body i.e. osteopaths, physiotherapists and chiropractors must all be registered with the national governing body AHPRA.  There are currently 14 National Boards with AHPRA.  To find out more about AHPRA and which professions require registration, go to https://www.ahpra.gov.au.  Professions who are registered with AHPRA must abide by specific professional standards in order to practice and they are not legally allowed to advertise as one of these professions if they are not registered with AHPRA.   

For those professions that aren’t required to be registered with AHPRA, I will often look to see if the practitioner is a member of specific professional body or association.  For example, myotherapist may be registered with IRMA (http://www.myotherapy.org.au/home) or a number of other similar associations.  Almost all professions will have professional association which they can elect to become a member of such as Osteopathy Australia, COCA, Australian Physiotherapy Association etc.  The benefit of being such a member of these professional associations is that members will hopefully be provided with a range of resources and materials to help them advertise and keep up to date with evidence based best practice guidelines.  As a client, this is important to me because hopefully the practitioner is taking full advantage of these services and will be offering me the best service and management that best evidence based practice suggests.    These associations should also provide their members with up to date information on services that clients will be able to access such as Workcover, TAC, Veterans Affairs, Private Health Insurance Rebating and Medicare’s Chronic Disease Management Plan.

If you are looking for a practitioner who has a particular skill set to address your specific needs, then I would suggest checking their background to ensure that they have the appropriate post graduate qualifications and experience to address your needs. 

Is the Practitioner Able To Provide The Service That I Require?

The simplest way to find out if the practitioner is going to be able to help you is to call them and ask to speak to them or the practice manager.  At our practice we encourage potential clients to contact us via phone, email or in person should they have any questions about our practice, practitioners and services provided.  We will often arrange a time to discuss any questions that you might have and advise on whether we will be able to provide an appropriate service.  If we do not feel that we are going to be able to provide you with appropriate care, we will refer you to someone who we feel will be better suited to you or more qualified to address your needs.  I would hope that all practices and practitioners adopt a similar policy so that you can be sure that you are seeing the right person when attending an allied health practitioner.    

How Did I Find Out About The Practitioner?

There are so many ways to find a practitioner these days, ranging from referral from friends, work colleagues, family, referral from other health professionals, google, yellow pages and so on.  Each of these referral methods has its benefits, however I would be inclined to do your research i.e. if you were referred by a friend, check with AHPRA, their webpage and speak to the practice should you have any additional questions to make sure that the practice or practitioner is right for you.

How Does The Practice Or Practitioner Communicate Prior To Your Consultation?

Prior to consulting with the practitioner, often I will already have an idea about how they run their business and communicate.  Enquiries made, conversations had with reception staff, communication with the practice or practitioner about their services, communicating during the booking process, booking confirmation processes, as well as response times to communications and how this is done i.e. in person, phone, email, sms, webpage etc will all provide some insight into how their practice operates.  Depending on your communication needs, communication prior to a consultation may or may not be important, however I feel that it often reflects on the practice and practitioner and as a client, I am often wanting a straight forward, efficient and personable process with as little hassle as possible.

Is The Practitioner Listening And Addressing My Needs?

There is listening and then there is actively listening.  When I see a practitioner and I am looking for a particular service, I am wanting them to listen to my reasons for attending the practice and for them to address my needs where appropriate.  A good practitioner will actively listen to you during your consultation and be sure to address your needs and goals.  Failure to address your needs as client suggests that they aren’t actively listening and individualising the treatment and management plan.  At our practice our practitioners will enquire as to why you have booked your appointment and what you are hoping to get from the consultation.  This allows us as a practitioner identify your needs and goals and address this appropriately within our treatment and management plan. 

What Sort Of Follow Up Does The Practice or Practitioner Provide?

Often as a client I am always impressed when I receive a follow up phone call, sms or email within 1-7 days post consultation to see how things are going and if I have any questions.  This shows me that as client that I am being looked at more than just a one off consultation.  Whilst not all people will like a follow up after a consultation, I feel it is important following an initial consultation or where circumstances suggest that it might be warranted i.e. you visit your allied health practitioner with an acute sore neck and they follow up 1-2 days after the initial consultation to check in and see how you are going. 

This blog was written by Osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy.


Principle Four Osteopathy

Principle Four Osteopathy is one of Melbourne City CBD leading Osteopathy clinics. At the clinic we treat a wide range of clients, ranging from the office worker, exercise enthusiast to athlete. We have 3 experienced osteopaths working across both of the clinics.

The Melbourne City CBD clinic is located at 29 Somerset Place (basement), close to the corner of Elizabeth St and Little Bourke in the Melbourne City CBD. Our premises adjoin the Jon Weller Personal Training Studio, a fully-equipped training space which allows clients to combine their osteopathy treatment with exercise tutorials or specific training programs and rehabilitation.

The Docklands clinic is located at 717 Bourke St (Ground Floor), beneath the Channel 9 building near the walkway from Southern Cross Train Station to Etihad Stadium. Our premises adjoin Pilates on Bourke, a fully-equipped pilates and yoga training space which allows clients to combine their osteopathy treatment with exercise tutorials, pilates or specific training programs and rehabilitation.

To speak to an Osteopath or book an appointment at Principle Four Osteopathy, please book online or call 03 9670 9290.