Clinical Kit 98 - 24/11/2015 - APA Restricting Your PD Access
AAP Education has been informed by the Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA), that because we provide courses that compete with courses conducted by the APA, we will no longer be able to advertise our courses in APA publications, nor will AAP Education be able to rent APA facilities, starting January 2016. This apparently will be the same for all non-APA providers.
The APA is a member-based organization. We have spent many years working on different APA committees in a voluntary capacity, presented numerous talks and weekend courses, helping the APA in a small way to grow as a professional association. To us, the APA’s key role is to foster the development of its members and this decision is a very backward step in many ways.
In the April InMotion 2015, APA National President Marcus Dripps said, “I encourage you all to seek out the opportunities in our professional lives”. We agree. A key role of the APA is to foster the development of all members, not put roadblocks in the pathway of their development. The APA should foster a level playing field and being confident of offering a high quality professional product, should let its members decide on what courses they attend. Excluding external providers from advertising indicates that members are already voting with their feet and the APA is attempting to stem this tide through restrictive practices.
Loss of Financial Income
Simply put, AAP Education and Manual Concepts spend a lot of money advertising courses and hiring venues through the APA; provisionally estimated at $50,000. AAP Education has deliberately utilized APA venues as a means of recycling monies back into our professional organization. If this $50,000 has to go somewhere, why not back into our peak professional body? With this new decision there will be a direct loss to the APA’s bottom line, as the facilities to hire will still be there and the journal still published, both just now under utilized. Will the APA make up this loss of money by raising membership fees?
Preferred Provider Schemes
The APA has a historical strong stance on the negative effects of ‘preferred provider schemes’. Yet in the attached letter, this is exactly what the APA is promoting to its own benefit. Only this time, under the banner of professional development, not health rebate payments. “...the APA will begin working on a framework through which partnerships, license arrangements and other types of relationships can be explored between APA and external PD providers. This framework will offer exciting new opportunities for selected PD providers...” So for those that don’t accept a “licensed arrangement”? This doesn’t sound like a starting point for fair negotiation.
While not being legal professionals, it seems pretty obvious that some degree of restrictive practice is occurring here by a dominant player and is certainly anticompetitive. As current members of the organization conducting this behavior, we are concerned about the legal ramifications in regards to Fair Trade and ACCC. We would want to know the full extent of legal advice provided and how this would affect us, as current members of the offending organization.
Having provided courses through the APA and independently for 25 years, we have a great deal of experience in running professional development courses. It is our experience that courses run by the APA are in general more expensive for participants and often cancelled due to organisational issues. The membership of the APA would undoubtedly be the poorer for a monopoly. We believe the APA has a vital role in supporting clinicians, be they in public or private domains and across the broad range of disciplines that makes our physiotherapy profession so diverse. Having likewise access to a broad range of professional development is critical and the APA can’t provide all that diversity or flexibility of service. It seems in attempt to gain market dominance, the APA is willing to forgo income, stifle member development and limit member access to professional development.
After more than 30 years of supporting the APA, 2016 maybe the first year that some of us will not be renewing our APA membership.
If you would like to take some personal action on this matter, we are a member-based organisation where individual voices are important. People to contact could include;
- Marcus Dripps: APA President firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cris Massis: APA Chief Executive Officer Cris.Massis@physiotherapy.asn.au
- Marko Stechiwskyj: Editor InMotion email@example.com
- James Fitzpatrick: APA General Manager, Professional Development and Member Groups James.Fitzpatrick@physiotherapy.asn.au
Toby Hall - Manual Concepts Clinical Director
Kim Robinson - Manual Concepts Clinical Director
Doug Cary - AAP Education Clinical Director