Pathology, diagnostic imaging and other diagnostic services assist medical and other health practitioners to describe, diagnose and monitor a patient’s illness or injury. Patients may receive such services in hospital, but for services provided in non-hospital settings, patients are typically referred to these services by a medical practitioner. There are simple basic pathology tests, some imaging services and many other diagnosis services that patients do not require a referral to attract Medicare benefit.
Pathology services include a wide range of tests on patient samples, such as blood, urine or body tissue. One sample may be used for multiple tests.
Diagnostic imaging services include: radiography (X-ray), ultrasound, computed tomography (CT scan), nuclear medicine and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These services are performed by qualified technical staff in conjunction with registered medical practitioners who are often specialists in diagnostic radiology.
As well as pathology and diagnostic imaging, there are a wide variety of other diagnostic services performed by, or under the direct supervision of, a medical practitioner (often a specialist). These services include electrocardiography (ECG), sleep studies, audiograms, and spirometry.
Whilst many diagnostic services are rendered in hospital, not all of these are subsidised through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). Common examples of non-MBS subsidised services include:
- services provided by hospital doctors to public patients
- services provided under the Department of Veterans' Affairs National Treatment Account
- services covered by third party or workers' compensation.
This page focuses on pathology, imaging and other diagnostic services subsidised through the MBS and provided in non-hospital settings which accounted for most MBS-subsidised diagnostic services. Non-hospital MBS-subsidised diagnostic services were based on the financial year of processing between 2015–16 and 2020–21. This page also highlights the impact of COVID-19 on diagnostic services processed until the end of December 2021.