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1.  Remunerating private psychiatrists for participating in case conferences 
Background
On 1 November 2000, a series of new item numbers was added to the Medicare Benefits Schedule, which allowed for case conferences between physicians (including psychiatrists) and other multidisciplinary providers. On 1 November 2002, an additional set of numbers was added, designed especially for use by psychiatrists. This paper reports the findings of an evaluation of these item numbers.
Results
The uptake of the item numbers in the three years post their introduction was low to moderate at best. Eighty nine psychiatrists rendered 479 case conferences at a cost to the Health Insurance Commission of $70,584. Psychiatrists who have used the item numbers are generally positive about them, as are consumers. Psychiatrists who have not used them have generally not done so because of a lack of knowledge, rather than direct opposition. The use of the item numbers is increasing over time, perhaps as psychiatrists become more aware of their existence and of their utility in maximising quality of care.
Conclusion
The case conferencing item numbers have potential, but as yet this potential is not being realised. Some small changes to the conditions associated with the use of the item numbers could assist their uptake.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-2-33
PMCID: PMC1343565  PMID: 16359557
2.  A review of the psychometric properties of the Health of the Nation Outcome Scales (HoNOS) family of measures 
Background
The Health of the Nation Outcome Scales was developed to routinely measure outcomes for adults with mental illness. Comparable instruments were also developed for children and adolescents (the Health of the Nation Outcome Scales for Children and Adolescents) and older people (the Health of the Nation Outcome Scales 65+). All three are being widely used as outcome measures in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. There is, however, no comprehensive review of these instruments. This paper fills this gap by reviewing the psychometric properties of each.
Method
Articles and reports relating to the instruments were retrieved, and their findings synthesised to assess the instruments' validity (content, construct, concurrent, predictive), reliability (test-retest, inter-rater), sensitivity to change, and feasibility/utility.
Results
Mostly, the instruments perform adequately or better on most dimensions, although some of their psychometric properties warrant closer examination.
Conclusion
Collectively, the Health of the Nation Outcome Scales family of measures can assess outcomes for different groups on a range of mental health-related constructs, and can be regarded as appropriate for routinely monitoring outcomes.
doi:10.1186/1477-7525-3-76
PMCID: PMC1315350  PMID: 16313678
Mental health; outcome measurement; Health of the Nation Outcome Scales (HoNOS); Health of the Nation Outcome Scales for Children and Adolescents (HoNOSCA); Health of the Nation Outcome Scales 65+ (HoNOS65+)

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