Any organisation that has attempted to list a new medical service on the Australian Medical Benefits Schedule (which lists the services which are subsidised by the Australian Medicare system) will realise it can be a lengthy and daunting process.

The application process is run by an Australian government secretariat which supports the Medical Services Advisory Committee (MSAC) – an independent committee appointed by the Australian Minister of Health to advise on the safety, clinical effectiveness and cost effectiveness of medical services and to recommend whether or not they should be funded by Australian taxpayers.

The current MSAC process has been criticised as being cumbersome, bureaucratic and repetitive. Very slowly MSAC has been working to come up with a process that is less onerous on applicants and removes some of the current inefficiencies while still providing a process that is transparent and rigorous.  Consultation documents on the proposed new process are available here.

At first glance the proposed process appears even more complex than the current process, but there does appear to be more opportunities for applicants to access an abridged pathway.  This would be very welcome as the current process rarely takes less than two years and is very constrained by the infrequent meetings of MSAC and its sub-committees.

A major change is the removal of the development of the decision analytic protocol from applicants. The new process proposes that this be completed by contracted health technology assessment (HTA) organisations.

There is no timeframe outlined in the consultation documents of when any new process may be implemented but the deadline for feedback is February 12 2016

For assistance with MSAC applications please see