Initial Assessment and Referral Decision Support Tool (IAR-DST)

Northern Territory PHN provides ongoing training and support to assist GPs and other clinicians in using the Initial Assessment and Referral (IAR) and Decision Support Tool (DST) – a useful support to complement clinical judgement and assessment for recommending the most appropriate level of care for a person seeking mental health support.

Table of Contents

What is the IAR-DST?

Stepped care

NT PHN uses a stepped-care approach for mental health planning and services.

However, without a national approach, inconsistencies in care arise, leading to different treatments for similar clinical presentations.

To address this issue and the strain on the mental health sector, a standardised and transparent referral process is essential.

How IAR works

The IAR-DST is used to alongside a usual mental health assessment to gather information from the consumer.

The assessment is undertaken across 8 holistic domains which aim to describe clinical severity and service needs, and guide decisions on the most appropriate next steps (for example, intervention, further assessment)

A national approach

The IAR-DST, an initiative of the Department of Health and Aged Care, gathers information from various sources, including experts and evidence from Australia and abroad.

It offers a nationally consistent, evidence-based approach for assessing and referring patients seeking mental health support.

The tool streamlines the process for clinicians in determining the care needs of patients with mental health concerns.

Benefits of IAR-DST

Consistent and transparent referrals

The IAR-DST provides a standardised framework for referrers to communicate assessment and referral information consistently, and articulate treatment needs using a language commonly understood across the sector.

Widespread use of the IAR-DST improves awareness and transparency of how decisions about the appropriateness of referrals are made.

Improved patient outcomes

Effective communication of a consumer’s circumstances will ensure that they are matched to the most appropriate service for their needs, minimise the risks and liabilities associated with under-estimating a person’s treatment needs.

Moreover, this can reduce frustration and save time in managing rejected referrals, meaning more patients receive the right care at the right time.

Supported decision making

Referrers can use the tool to guide the discussion about treatment options with consumers, with the flexibility to adjust treatment needs in response to changes in their circumstances.

Studies have shown that when consumers are involved in the decision process, they are empowered and more likely to adhere to care.

Streamlined referral process

Integration of the IAR-DST within existing primary systems and mapping of available services to each level of care will streamline decision-making processes and reduce overall administrative load.

Importance of GPs in mental health

For most Australians, a general practice is the first port of call when they access Australian’s healthcare system, and their general practitioner (GP) is usually the first person they consult about their mental health care. In 2020-21, almost 13% of Australians aged 16-85 saw a GP for their mental health.

In 2019-20, approximately 30% of Medicare-subsidised services specific to mental health were provided by GPs. In a recent report, GPs reported – for the sixth consecutive year- that psychological conditions (including sleep disturbance and depression) were the most commonly reported reasons for patient presentations.

This is why GPs would benefit from skills and knowledge to identify and address patient’s mental health needs.

Videos

IAR-DST training

Target participants:

  • GP and GP registrars
  • Medical staff or clinicians
  • Other mental health professionals and peer workers.

Learning outcomes:

  • Describe the Initial Assessment and Referral development process.
  • Describe 8 assessment domains of the Initial Assessment and Referral
  • Differentiate between levels of care and determine regional services appropriate to patients’ needs
  • Apply the decision support tool to generate a recommended level of care appropriate to the patient’s needs
  • Apply the principles related to clinical decision-making and consumer choice into practice.

Two CPD hours

Attendees may record one-hour educational activities, and one hour reviewing performance.

$300 GP Incentive

This is a paid training opportunity for GP and GP registrars. A once-off payment* of $300 will be given after successful completion of the training workshop in an electronic gift card form.

*Note: Payment is not available to other medical staff or clinicians.

Not available for GPs working in Commonwealth-funded services (e.g. adult mental health centres, Aboriginal medical centres), unless training is completed outside paid employment hours.

Training Options

The training workshop for a total of 2 hours and are delivered through multiple options:

National training

Two hours online via Zoom.

Local training

Two hours online via Microsoft Teams.

Register through the links below.

Mixed training

You can also self-enrol for the training through the openlearning platform.

Register here and use access code:
iar-workshop-one-nt-phn_123

Workshop 1* – 30 minutes pre-recorded video you can access in your own time.

Workshop 2 – 90 minutes practical activity via Teams or face to face (subject to availability)

*Note: Completion of Workshop 1 is a pre-requisite for acceptance in Workshop 2.

**If you have at least 4 GPs and would like to have a face-to-face in-service training, please contact the IAR Training and Support Officer through the details below.

Local IAR Training Workshop Schedule

See below the dates, times, target participants and registration links for upcoming IAR training workshops.

Please note you must register in advance for all workshops.

DateTime (ACST Darwin Time)Registration link
Thursday 22 February 20243.00 pm – 5.00 pmClick HERE to register in advance for this meeting.
Friday 23 February 20243.00 pm – 5.00 pmClick HERE to register in advance for this meeting.
Friday 29 February 20242.30 pm – 4.30 pmClick HERE to register in advance for this meeting.
Friday 1 March 20242.30 pm – 4.30 pmClick HERE to register in advance for this meeting.
Friday 8 March 20242.30 pm – 4.30 pmClick HERE to register in advance for this meeting.
Thursday 14 March 20242.30 pm – 4.30 pmClick HERE to register in advance for this meeting.
Friday 15 March 20243.00 pm – 5.00 pmClick HERE to register in advance for this meeting.
Thursday 21 March 20242.30 pm – 4.30 pmClick HERE to register in advance for this meeting.
Friday 22 March 20242.30 pm – 4.30 pmClick HERE to register in advance for this meeting.

 

More information

If you have any questions for enquiries regarding IAR-DST or attending workshops, contact Shanthi Bandara, NEAMI National’s IAR Training and Support Officer.

📧 shanthi.bandara@neaminational.org.au

📞 0467 246 564

Link to the IAR-DST tool here