Practice Connect #103

24 September 2020

Welcome to Practice Connect, a fortnightly update for practice managers, nurses and practice administration staff on relevant issues, upcoming events and education.

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Extension of COVID-19 phone and telehealth items

On 18 September 2020, the Australian Government announced that a range of COVID-19 health measures, including the temporary COVID-19 telehealth and phone Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) items, have been extended to 31 March 2021.
In addition, from 1 October 2020, the following changes apply to Telehealth items:

  • Telehealth and phone consultation services provided by GPs and other doctors in general practice will be amended to remove the requirement to bulk-bill attendances for certain patients. When the amendment takes effect on 1 October 2020, these doctors will be able to choose to bulk-bill or patient bill any temporary COVID-19 telehealth and phone attendance service. Bulk billing will continue to be available and regular billing practices will apply to all of these services.
  • The bulk billing incentive, which had been temporarily doubled, will also return to the normal rate from 1 October 2020.

Telehealth and phone consultation services must still be performed by the patient’s usual medical practitioner (please see MBS Note AN.1.1 for the definition of ‘patient’s usual medical practitioner’ as some exemptions do apply).
A summary of the changes is available from MBS Online. For more information about providing telehealth consultations, please visit our Telehealth Information page on Practice Assist.



MBS XML update for October now available

Inclusive of the changes to Telehealth and Phone consultations, the October XML MBS download is now available for download here.



Resumption of general practice accreditation assessments (survey visits)

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) has announced that onsite accreditation assessments against the RACGP Standards for general practices can resume from 26 October 2020. Assessments have been on hold since 25 March 2020 due to COVID-19.
The Commission has also announced that all accredited general practices will have 12 months added to their current certification expiry date to allow for planning and preparation of assessments.
Planning for onsite assessment will take a risk-based approach, and specific criteria (such as active COVID-19 clusters or closed borders) will be applied to determine which practices can be considered suitable for onsite assessment.
Practices are advised to contact their accrediting agency to discuss their specific circumstances and determine the next steps. The Commission has also published some frequently asked questions to support practices in understanding the announcement and what it means for them.


PIP QI: A reminder to practices

We are just over halfway through this Practice Incentives Program (PIP) Quality Improvement (QI) quarter. We would like to remind practices to ensure that they have at least one successful data extraction before 15 October 2020 in order to be eligible for payment. If you are unsure whether your practice has successfully extracted this quarter or if you are having issues with data extraction, please speak with your Primary Health Liaison or Comprehensive Primary Care Facilitator.
A reminder also that the PIP QI exemption period expired on 31 July 2020. Following the expiry of the exemption, to be eligible for a PIP QI Incentive payment participating practices must submit the PIP QI dataset to WAPHA by 15 October 2020. If your practice held an exemption and will be unable to meet this timeframe, you must advise the Australian Department of Health by 30 September 2020 via If you have any questions, please speak with your Primary Health Liaison or Comprehensive Primary Care Facilitator.



An update on the Practice Assist Resource Library: Editable PDF resources

As part of our support for general practices, Practice Assist maintains a library of useful resources in our Practice Assist Resource Library. These resources range across different topics from GP Accreditation, Practice Incentives Program, to the latest in resources around COVID-19.
At present we are reviewing and updating all our resources to ensure that we have current, accurate and useful information available when needed.
As part of this review we have produced our Templates and Checklists in Editable PDF format. This means the practices can add information relevant to their practice. These templates and checklists can also be used as a source for practices developing their own practice specific resources.

Business Management

COVID-19 Resources

Human Resources

Programs and National Schemes

General Practice Accreditation

Quality Improvement

We would appreciate your feedback on this new editable pdf format for practice use, please email with ideas and comments.



General Practice Good News Story: Bone Health Matters

North Beach Medical is a small family run General Practice in North Beach, Perth. North Beach is a northern coastal suburb of Perth with a high elderly population.
At North Beach Medical practice, the Practice Nurse carried out a Quality Improvement activity to identify patients over 70 years of age who had not been previously assessed for bone health and to increase the number of bone health reviews in the practice

She also identified patients who had had a previous minimal fracture that had not been assessed for bone densomitory.
The Practice Nurse ran a report via the clinical software and identified a total of 553 patients that were eligible.
Patients were then invited to attend the practice and be screened in the Osteoporosis Solutions screening van, the “Bone Van”

  total of 22 patients were screened in 1 day, and 7 patients were identified with either osteopenia or osteoporosis. These patients will now be reviewed by their General Practitioner on a regular basis and will commence treatment.
At North Beach Medical, there will now be a 6-month goal in the practice to focus on patient bone health.
They will carry out annual falls risk assessments on all patients over the age of 70 using their recall/reminder system and include Bone Density testing at their 75-year-old health assessments.
They will display patient information in their waiting room and are also considering using advertising/education on their TV in the waiting room.
For further information regarding the Osteoporosis Solutions screening van, please visit the Osteoporosis Solutions website, or contact via phone (08) 9472 1904 or email

Please visit the  Practice Assist Resource Library on our website for further information and resources regarding Quality Improvement for your practice.



HealthDirect Extended

The Australian Department of Health has extended the healthdirect Video Call COVID-19 GP Program to 31 March 2021. We encourage you to continue using this secure video consulting platform which has been purpose-built for primary health settings.
This extension provides a seamless continuation of service for those already using it. For GPs in private practice wanting to start using the service, please register for a free license. For GPs in ACCHOs wanting to start using the service, please register for a free license.
To date, over 175 practices in West Australia have been using the platform to hold video consultation with their patients.  Recent research by Connect Groups, funded by WA Primary Health Alliance, has shown that patients have benefited from the use of telehealth as a way to continue receiving appropriate care from their health providers at a time when face-to-face appointments may not be appropriate.
HealthDirect hold weekly webinars on the use of the platform for those practices wishing to understand how it may be used, and the Digital Health Team at WAPHA are available to support with the setup of the system for all GPs in West Australia.  For more information, or to request access to the platform, please see Practice Assist.



Extended: Help the East Metropolitan Health Service to improve communication with general practice

GPs play a vital role in caring for patients, connecting with public hospital services when required, and continuing care following discharge or outpatient review. The East Metropolitan Health Service (EMHS) wants to hear from GPs about their experience of communicating with our public hospitals, and what needs to be improved. Their feedback is essential to target action to the issues that matter to them most.

We especially want to hear from GPs who have had ANY patients attend one or more of Royal Perth, Bentley, Armadale, Kalamunda or St John of God Midland Public Hospitals in the past 12 months.
Feedback obtained through the survey will identify where hospitals have improved their communication with GPs and what requires further attention and help increase access to public hospital services.
Find out more and provide feedback here by 5pm, Monday 12 October.



Catch-up schedule to display on immunisation history statement

Australian Government legislation requires children to meet immunisation requirements to be eligible for family payments (No Jab No Pay). To meet the immunisation requirements for family payments, one of the following must apply to a child:

  • be immunised according to the National Immunisation Program ‘NIP’ childhood schedule
  • be on an approved catch-up vaccination schedule
  • have a valid exemption
Catch-up vaccination aims to protect people against disease as quickly as possible. It aims to help people get up to date with their vaccination schedule in the shortest, but most effective, time frame.
From February 2020, if a person is on an approved immunisation catch-up schedule registered on the AIR the:
  • catch-up schedule will display on the top of the immunisation history statement
  • date it expires will also show.

This helps give people a complete picture of their immunisation status. It gives parents and guardians evidence of a child’s vaccination status for childcare or school entry. It also lets other vaccination providers know how a person’s vaccination needs are being managed.



Prevenar 13 (adult) Vaccine Stock Issue

Vaccine Orders have temporarily run out of stock of the adult Pneumococcal vaccine (Prevenar 13). They are expecting more to be delivered to their warehouse in mid-October. Until then, providers who have an account are unable to order any of the Prevenar 13 (adult) vaccine. Providers are asked not to order any of the Prevenar 13 paediatric stock for use in adults.
Please see the Toll landing page for further details and updates of availability.



Recording Indigenous status on the AIR

Improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is a national priority. The National Immunisation Program (NIP) for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people provides additional vaccines to help improve the health of Indigenous people, and close the gap between Indigenous and non- Indigenous people in health and life expectancy.
To identify Indigenous people who may require additional vaccines, vaccination providers can now record Indigenous status directly on the Australian Immunisation Register ‘AIR’ and it will not be over-ridden by their status recorded by Medicare. AIR Indigenous status will not be recorded on any other government database and it does not need to be the same as Medicare.
Recording an Indigenous status on the AIR helps vaccination providers to identify and give the clinically correct vaccination schedule.
Vaccination providers should seek consent from the person at the time of a vaccination encounter before recording their Indigenous status on the AIR. There is no change to how a person’s Indigenous status is recorded on the AIR.
Up to date records help determine the impact of the National Immunisation Program (NIP) in preventing vaccine-preventable diseases. In turn, vaccination coverage figures and data available for research purposes become more comprehensive and reliable over time.



NPS MedicineWise: New Ashthma Guidelines Webinar

Important changes to the way mild asthma can be managed for patients aged 12 years and over have been announced with the release of the Australian Asthma Handbook V2.1.

A free one-hour webinar, New Asthma Guidelines: what’s changed? Will be held on 29 September 2020 at 7pm.  This webinar has been designed by NPS Medicinewise in partnership with the National Asthma Council to provide information on these recent changes to asthma guidelines and the way asthma medications can be used for mild asthma.


The multidisciplinary panel of experts includes the GP Chair of the Australian Asthma Handbook Guidelines Committee, an Advanced Practice Pharmacist, a nurse Asthma Educator and a consumer representative.
Please click here for registration details.



TGA Recall Action - Insulin pumps with Basal-IQ Technology

The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) have issued an Urgent Product Defect Correction notice for Insulin Pumps:  t:slim X2 and t:slim X2 insulin pump with Basal-IQ technology due to a problem with unexpected fluctuation of battery life.
This recall is expected to affect 5206 consumers nationally, with letters being sent to all affected customers.
See TGA Recalls for further information.



HealthPathways launches mobile site  

On 29 September, the HealthPathways WA site will become mobile-friendly.


Your normal login details or access method will continue to work, but you will need to log in again with your usual username and password, due to a change in domain names.  Make a note of these details now or contact the HealthPathways WA team via phone on 08 6272 4926, or email on if you do not know them.
Your existing bookmarks and links will continue to work but will be redirected to the new domain at  For seamless use, you may wish to update your bookmarks and/or re-download any desktop or mobile icons and ensure your browser is up to date.
See instructions on how to download a quick-link icon to your mobile android or iOS device, or how to add an icon to your desktop.
The new site has been optimised for mobile devices, meaning all pages shift and adjust the content depending on the device you are using (desktop computer, laptop, tablet, or mobile). This will ensure optimum access to HealthPathways content no matter where you are consulting from and may help improve connectivity for those whose practices may have slow desktop internet speeds. There will be a “classic” HealthPathways site, with identical content, running parallel to the mobile-friendly version for anyone who prefers it (select an interface preference by clicking on the three dots at the top right of the screen on the new site).
If you need more assistance with this transition, contact the WA HealthPathways team via phone on 08 6272 4926, via email on



COVID-19 HealthPathways Updates

The following content updates have now been published:

  • COVID-19 Assessment and Management:
    • Updated information regarding testing for COVID-19 effective 11th September 2020 including information about asymptomatic DETECT border testing.
    • Added information under appropriate personal protective equipment use on P2 or N95 masks and how to perform a respirator fit check.  
    • Addition of the RACGP patient information sheet - managing mild COVID-19 at home with assistance from your GP which includes a daily symptom diary and COVID-19 action plan.
  • COVID-19 Impact on Clinical Care:
    • Updated gestational diabetes COVID-19 note to advise health practitioners to resume gestational diabetes screening as per pre COVID-19 testing.
    • Added new child and youth COVID-19 note for paediatric inflammatory multisystem disease (PIMS-TS), as well as information and resources on advance care planning and action plans.
  • COVID-19 Mental Health:
    • Added resources for new and expectant parents.
  • COVID-19 Information page has been reviewed and updated.



My Health Record Policy Requirements

The Australian Information Commissioner recently published a report from the Office of the Information Commissioner (OAIC) on the issue of access security governance for the My Health Record.  The report identified good privacy practices, but is also a timely reminder that all organisations accessing the My Health Record must ensure that they have processes in place for suspending or deactivating user accounts, and for identifying and responding to My Health Record-related security and privacy risks as well as providing suitable training for members of staff.
All practices accessing the My Health Record must have a policy in place, and the RACGP supports this with a policy template. If you have any queries or training requirements, please contact the WAPHA Digital Health Team via



Goals of Patient Care documents in My Health Record

South Metropolitan Health Service and WA Country Health Service recently commenced the upload of Goals of Patient Care (GoPC) clinical documents to My Health Record. Uploads occur with patient consent.
This change means that completed GoPC clinical documents can be viewed by the patient, their My Health Record representatives and other healthcare professionals involved in their care.
The WA Health sites that have recently enabled this functionality are Fiona Stanley and Fremantle hospitals, and the WA Country Health Service South West sites: Bunbury, Busselton, Collie, Warren and Margaret River. WA Health aim to roll out this My Health Record functionality to other sites over the next year.   
If a GoPC clinical document is available to view in My Health Record, you can discuss the document with the patient, their family and / or carers. This supports ongoing shared decision-making with the patient and provides a starting point for advance care planning conversations should this be appropriate.  The location of the clinical documents in My Health Record depends on the type of clinical software you use to access My Health Record. The document will be listed as a ‘Goals of Care Document’.
For more information on My Health Record including the uploads of Advance Care Planning documents please email any queries to the Digital Health Team at WA Primary Health Alliance at
For more information and to view a copy of Goals of Patient Care please click here.
For more information on the upload of GoPC clinical documents to My Health Record please email any queries to



Royal Perth Hospital outpatient letter faxing

From Monday 21 September 2020, letters from some RPH outpatient clinics will be automatically faxed to GPs. This will allow GPs to receive outpatient correspondence more quickly than by mail and is an interim measure while we work towards secure messaging of outpatient letters.

Where a fax appears to have been successfully transmitted, a hard copy of that outpatient letter will NOT be mailed. Letters from clinics that do not have this facility will continue to be mailed for now, as will letters from Bentley Health Service (unless manually faxed if urgent). Where we do not have your fax number or the fax is not able to be transmitted, the letter will be mailed by post.
Please be sure we have your correct fax number. If you currently receive faxed GP notifications or discharge summaries from Royal Perth Hospital, we have your correct fax number. If your contact details or list of doctors working at your practice require checking or alteration, please telephone 9224 3673, fax: 9224 2348 or email on



PANDA Clinical Champions Call Out

Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) invites health professionals working in, or passionate about, supporting people’s mental health and well-being to become a PANDA Clinical Champion.
Clinical Champions are health professionals, researchers and clinical leaders who may or may not have their own lived experience of perinatal mental illness, who are interested in helping us shape the service system that provides care to the families who need it.
Through Clinical Champions, PANDA is offering health professionals an opportunity to broaden their impact and help us to build a community of passionate clinical leaders who work in or interact with the field of perinatal mental health. Clinical Champions may be asked to consult on a range of PANDA outputs, from public health to service design and professional development.
This program will also be part of further amplifying and strengthening Community Champion voices!
Lived experience has always been, and remains, at the heart of all that we do.
For more information click here or you can register here.
Connected together as a supportive and respectful team, embracing diversity with a growth mindset to enable transformation.



Wellbeing support at hand during stressful times

Professional and personal pressures can arise for general practice teams at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic.
To support GPs and practice staff to look after themselves and take the necessary steps to support their wellbeing, WA Primary Health Alliance is offering three free confidential counselling sessions via its Wellness Program.
Provided through AccessEAP, and available to all WA-based general practice staff, the program offers confidential sessions with a counsellor who can offer information and assistance in navigating the COVID-19 response as well as other personal and professional issues.
Issues that can be addressed during counselling sessions include:

  • Preparing for major life changes
  • Changes at work
  • Changes within family (marriage, new baby, divorce/separation)
  • Goal setting for professional or personal life
  • Developing new strategies for handling stress at work or at home
  • Or simply to have someone to speak to about any of life’s inevitable challenges

To book a confidential phone or video counselling appointment, you can call AccessEAP anytime on 1800 818 728. You will need to identify as a WA Primary Health Alliance member.
GPs and practice staff can also contact Practice Assist by calling 1800 2 ASSIST or emailing with any questions about the program.
For more information please visit the Practice Assist COVID-19 Well-being and Support webpage.



Allocation of surgical masks from the National Medical Stockpile

WA Primary Health Alliance continues to operate a significant logistical strategy to distribute masks during the COVID-19 pandemic to general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, pharmacies and allied health practices that meet the criteria of the Department of Health Tranche 4 guidelines.
For mask requests, visit the Practice Assist website.
Please note, re-orders will not be accepted within five business days (Mon-Fri) of the previous request, except in exceptional circumstances.
Please send all general queries in relation to the National Medical Stockpile to





Rural Health West Health Workforce Scholarship Program

The Health Workforce Scholarship Program (HWSP) is an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Health to improve access to health services in rural and remote areas by helping health professionals to pursue ongoing study and development.
Funding is available for health professionals who provide primary care services to Western Australian rural and remote Modified Monash (MM) 3-7 locations in the fields of medicine, nursing, midwifery, dentistry or allied health, including Aboriginal health practitioners or workers.

Training and upskilling of health professionals must help meet an identified health need in the community. Funding can be used for professional development such as short courses, workshop, online training and conferences; Postgraduate studies; Training related expenses such as travel and accommodation.


Applications for Round 7 open on Wednesday 2 September 2020 and close on Friday 20 November 2020. Click HERE for further information or contact Rural Health West via phone 08 6389 4500 or email:



The Death of a Colleague: Resource

Rural Health West and MDA National recently delivered a webinar covering ‘The Death of a Colleague’. This webinar has also informed the content of a resource, useful for all health professional practices.
The resource provides practical tips and ‘things to think about’ should a colleague decease or suffer a serious accident or illness.



Heart Foundation: Heart Health Check Toolkit

Register your interest today at Heart Foundation Heart Health Toolkit, a one-stop shop for information, tools and resources to help you implement Heart Health Checks at your practice in the simplest and most impactful way possible.
Medicare introduced Heart Health check items numbers in the Health Assessment category. These items allow for health assessments to identify cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors for eligible patients. See our Heart Health Check factsheet or MBS factsheet for details.
The Heart Foundation will be launching the Heart Health Check Toolkit for GPs, practice nurses and practice managers. You will have free access to templates, factsheets, posters, quality improvement activities and much more.




Cancer Council WA: Voice Box Campaign - Make Smoking History

On Sunday 20 September 2020, Make Smoking History launched its new graphic WA-made advertising campaign, ‘Voice Box’.

The television advertisements feature footage from a real surgery to remove a smoker’s voice box (larynx) due to cancer. The campaign was developed following concern from WA health professionals about the low awareness that smoking causes head and neck cancers. Around 77% of laryngeal cancers are caused by smoking and the treatment can be physically and emotionally devastating….Read more


For more information about the Make Smoking History campaign or resources to help your patients to quit, email




Health Promotion Events

WA Mental Health Week 10 to 17 October 2020

This year WA Mental Health Week theme is Strengthening Our Community – Live, Learn, Work, Play, as the aim is to increase mental wellbeing in WA communities.
The events of recent times have brought the social determinants of mental health into sharp focus across all of our communities and it’s important to take this opportunity of community awareness to bring attention to the need to safeguard people’s mental health during and after the COVID-19 crisis has passed.


In 2020, the aim is to boost mental wellbeing in WA communities by:
  • Encouraging each of us to support and look out for one another
  • Promoting mental health literacy and self-care tips
  • Raising awareness of mental health issues and reducing stigma associated with seeking support.
Events are being held across metropolitan and country Western Australia including comedy events, picnics, concerts, talks and arts events. Click here for the full list of activities.


Get involved

There are many ways to get involved in Mental health week; attend an event, host an event or morning tea. Morning Tea cookies and cupcakes are available to order through a list of official suppliers.


Resources such as posters, social media banners, and activity calendars can be downloaded here.

Coming up soon…
Breast Cancer Awareness Month October 1-31
Lupus Awareness Month October 1-31
Odd Socks Day October 4
World Sight Day October 8
Headspace Day October 11


Webinars and online training

All events are listed on our Webinars and Workshops page.

Maternal and Women’s health in a changing climate
Presented by WAPHA
Tuesday 29 September
New Asthma guidelines: what’s changed?
Presented by NPS Medicinewise
Tuesday 29 September
The Cutting Edge: Proceduralist Obstetrics and Gynaecological Skills
Presented by Rural Health West and CTEC
Friday 2 October
Hepatitis C in Primary Care
Presented by ASHM
Wednesday 7 October
Women's Sexual and Reproductive Health series: LGBTIQA+ Health webinar
Presented by ACCRM
Wednesday 7 October
The Cutting Edge: Managing Skin and Soft Tissue Injuries
Presented by Rural Health West and CTEC
Friday 9 October
RACGP Rural member Forum
Presented by RACGP
Saturday 10 October
Managing mental health presentations in general practice
Presented by RACGP
Tuesday 13 October
Ecological impacts from birth to adulthood
Presented by WAPHA
Tuesday 13 October
Team Based Advance Care Planning and Palliative Care for General Practice
Presented by Pasce
Thursday 15 October
Skin Cancer Diagnosis
Presented by RACGP
Saturday 17 October
Registrar series: Medicare update
Presented by RACGP
Thursday 22 October
Environmental health: how climate change affects health and healthcare
Presented by RACGP
Thursday 29 October
The Future of CVD risk assessment
Presented by the Heart Foundation & World Heart Federation
Tuesday 29 September
GP Invitation: 3rd Australian Consensus on the Prevention of Osteoporosis Fracture in RACFs
Presented by AIMSS & University of Melbourne
Friday 30 October
TADPole Alcohol Education Event: Does my patient have a drinking problem?
Presented by ECU and WAPHA
Saturday 14 November
Virtual Data & Analytics in Healthcare
Presented by Public Sector Network
Thursday 12 November
COVID-19 Infection Control Training
Presented by Department of Health
Online training
Chronic Disease Management and Healthy Ageing Program
Presented by APNA
Online training
Advanced Skills Training AOD - GPs
Presented by RACGP
Online training
STI Testing in Primary Care
Presented by ASHM
Online training


Practice Assist acknowledges and pays respect to the Traditional Owners and Elders of this country and recognises the significant importance of their cultural heritage, values and beliefs and how these contribute to the positive health and wellbeing of the whole community.

While the Australian Government Department of Health has contributed to the funding of this website, the information on this website does not necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government and is not advice that is provided, or information that is endorsed, by the Australian Government. The Australian Government is not responsible in negligence or otherwise for any injury, loss or damage however arising from the use of or reliance on the information provided on this website.