Practice Connect #185


14 December 2023

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

Acknowledgement of Country 

WA Primary Health Alliance 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.

Throughout this newsletter, the term 'Aboriginal' is used to refer to Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people, unless stated otherwise.



Seasons Greeting & Holiday Hours


Merry Christmas from the Practice Assist team

Festive wishes from the team at Practice Assist, may we take this time to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a safe holiday over this period. 

2024 Practice Assist Yearly Planner

To get you started for 2024, the Primary Care Navigator team have created a General Practice 2024 Year Planner that includes important dates to remind you of just some of the following:

  • PIP & WIP quarters
  • Shared Health Summary Uploads
  • Events & Training
  • Practice Connect newsletter publication dates
  • Other consideration for your practice

The General Practice 2024 Year Planner has been created as a fillable PDF that allows you to customise it to your practice needs.


Practice Assist Hours

The Practice Assist service will be closed from 5pm Friday 22 December 2023 and will reopen on Tuesday 2 January 2024 at 8am. 

Medical Urgent Care Centre

As some practices may shut down for the festive season or be working with reduced staff resulting in limited appointments. We have included the link to Find a Medical Urgent Care Clinic Near you for further support. 

Primary Sense

The Primary Sense emails will not be monitored from 5pm Friday 22 December 2023 to
Tuesday 2 January 2024 at 8am, any emails received during this time will be actioned upon our return.
For any other enquiries during the shutdown period please contact Practice Assist via email, all emails received during this time will be actioned upon our return.


Immunisation & Cancer Screening


Cold Chain Management

As per the National Strive for 5 guidelines

Strive for 5

Vaccines must be stored and transported within the recommended temperature range of +2°C to +8°C at all times — aim to store vaccines at 5°C.

Most vaccines are destroyed by freezing, and some vaccines are also particularly sensitive to heat or light. 

Vaccine fridges

Purpose-built vaccine refrigerators are specifically designed to store vaccines and
should be used for all vaccine storage. The fridge will require annual servicing and
calibrating to maintain vaccine safety.

Purpose-built vaccine refrigerators have the following advantages:

  • a stable, uniform and controlled cabinet temperature between +2°C and +8°C
  • standard alarm and safety features that alert to and/or prevent irregular temperature fluctuations in the cabinet
  • inbuilt digital temperature monitoring (inbuilt data logger) and/or digital temperature indicators (minimum and maximum temperature displays)
  • effective temperature recovery after the refrigerator door has been opened
  • potential for most of the internal space to be used for vaccine storage; ask the manufacturer how to pack the refrigerator to accommodate the maximum quantity of vaccine

Data Logger Checklist

  • Place the data logger where it is easily seen and in the middle of the vaccines
  • Measure the current, minimum and maximum temperatures twice daily, and record them
  • Set the alarm system to alarm outside the +2°C to +8°C range. Check that the alarm is working
  • Train all staff to recognise the alarm and download information from the data logger
  • Download and record information as soon as possible after an alarm is activated
  • If recordings are outside the +2°C to +8°C range, follow the cold chain breach protocol  and notify the relevant state health department
  • Regularly check and record the accuracy of the data logger. Record the date the accuracy check is done. To check the accuracy, place a second data logger in the refrigerator next to the existing data logger to obtain comparison temperature readings. Inbuilt data loggers should be checked for accuracy according to the manufacturer’s recommendation
  • Change the battery according to the manufacturer’s recommendation, or when the battery life displayed on either the data logger or computer set-up screen is low. Record the date the battery is changed. Life of the replaceable battery may be dependent on usage (e.g. how frequently the temperature is recorded and data are downloaded)

More information on Cold Chain can be found on our HealthPathways page and also on Practice Assist.


Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) Update - 4 December 2023

Recent updates have been made to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). 

Addition of new fields

Two new reporting fields have been added and include vaccine type and route of administration.

These fields will become mandatory on 1 March 2024. Route of administration will only be mandatory for Japanese encephalitis vaccines.

1. Vaccine type

Under the vaccine type field, vaccination providers will be able to choose from the following options:
i. Antenatal
ii. NIP/Commonwealth
iii. Private
iv. State Program

Vaccination providers can only select one of the four options under the ‘vaccine type’ field.
  • The Antenatal option should be selected when the person presenting is pregnant at the time the
  • vaccine is administered, regardless of whether the vaccine is funded privately, under the NIP or a state and territory program
  • COVID-19 vaccines should be reported as NIP/Commonwealth
2. Route of administration
Under the ‘route of administration’ field, which will be a mandatory field for Japanese encephalitis vaccines only, vaccination providers will be able to choose from the following options:
  • Oral
  • Subcutaneous
  • Intradermal
  • Intramuscular


Clinical practice guidelines for the prevention, early detection and management of colorectal cancer 

The National Health and Medical Research Council recently approved updates to the Clinical practice guidelines for the prevention, early detection, and management of colorectal cancer. 

The updated recommendation for population screening in Australia, for at those at average risk of colorectal cancer and without symptoms, is immunochemical faecal occult blood testing every two years, starting at age 45 years.
This is an update from the previous starting age of 50. The upper limit of the age range will remain the same, at 74 years.
The Australian Government is considering lowering the starting age of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) from 50 to 45 years, evaluating the associated costs and broader health system effects.
Until the government concludes its consideration of possible changes to the NBCSP:

  • Bowel screening kits will continue to be sent to eligible Australians aged 50 to 74.
  • Health professionals are best placed to explain the benefits and potential harms of bowel screening in the context of individual health situations for patients aged 45 to 49.

Screening can be offered via a Medicare-funded kit or by purchasing a private screening kit at pharmacies or online.


The National Strategy for the Elimination of Cervical Cancer has now been launched

The eagerly-awaited Elimination Strategy has now been launched.

Earlier this month, the Australian Government launched this landmark strategy, which set to make preventable cervical cancer a disease of the past.

It sets Australia on the path to becoming the first country in the world to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health concern, as early as 2035.
Find out more, and view the complete strategy here


Did you know you can access patients' cancer screening history and immunisations via your clinical software? 

The National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR) has created a portal for healthcare providers to access screening information for their patients.

Also, Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) is available to providers to access directly through their own clinical software (e.g. Best Practice and Medical Director). 
The AIR function is beneficial for:

  • accessing up-to-date immunisation lists
  • saving immunisations that were given elsewhere directly to the patient record
  • updating First Nations status
  • ensuring patients do not receive duplicate or wrong immunisations
  • assisting with patient reminder lists.

The NCSR function helps your team with:

  • viewing patient results
  • reviewing/checking screening history
  • saving information directly to the patient record
  • direct ordering of bowel screening kits.

For more information on either function please contact Practice Assist on 1800 2 ASSIST (1800 2 277 478 or 08 6278 7900) or email


COVID Updates


Protect high-risk patients against COVID-19 this festive season

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has updated advice for the COVID-19 vaccine.
If it has been 6 months since receiving a COVID-19 vaccine or a confirmed COVID-19 infection, an additional dose:

  • is recommended for all people aged 75 or older
  • should be considered for people aged 65-74 and people aged 18-64 years with medical comorbidities, disability or complex health needs, following discussion with their health care provider

Older age continues to be the biggest risk factor for severe COVID-19 disease.

The Department of Health and Aged Care is prioritising delivery of XBB vaccines to primary care providers who undertake COVID-19 vaccinations in residential aged care facilities.

Booster doses are not recommended at this time for children and adolescents under 18 years of age who do not have any risk factors for severe COVID-19.
All COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to provide benefits to eligible people by reducing the severity of illness.

However, the Monovalent Omicron XBB.1.5 vaccines are now preferred for use in a primary course and as further doses.

Vaccine providers can order this new vaccine, with doses being delivered ready to administer from 11 December 2023.
Vaccination is the best way to protect older people from severe illness or death from COVID-19.
Further information on Booster doses and COVID -19 can be found on these websites:


COVID-19 VOC end of year arrangements


Vaccine Operations Centre (VOC) holiday arrangements

The VOC operating hours will change over the Christmas and New Year period. The VOC will close at 3pm on 22 December 2023 and reopen on 2 January 2024. 

COVID-19 vaccine stock reporting over the holidays

Participating sites will need to continue submitting weekly Stock Management Reports, unless closed over Christmas and New Year.
If closed over the holidays, you must submit one Stock Management Report when you re-open before placing your next COVID-19 vaccine order.
If you have any questions, please call the VOC on 1800 318 208 or email


Decommissioning the COVID-19 Digital Certificate

In early 2023, a new COVID-19 and Influenza Immunisation History Statement (IHS) was created.

The new statement only displays COVID-19 and influenza vaccination information (including medical contraindications).

The COVID-19 and Influenza Immunisation History Statement provides individuals with more privacy as they can use it as evidence of their vaccinations, without needing to provide their full vaccination history.
From 3 December 2023, individuals will be able to use and share their COVID-19 and Influenza Immunisation History Statement with their digital wallets (Apple/Google).

This will enable quick and easy access to proof of vaccination.

With the availability of the new COVID-19 and Influenza Immunisation History Statement through the digital wallets, the COVID-19 Digital Certificate will be decommissioned at the same time.

The existing Immunisation History Statement will remain available for individuals to use, which displays all vaccination information that they have recorded on the AIR.

If you require further information on proof of vaccination, please visit the Services Australia What an immunisation history statement is website.


COVID-19 Vaccines in Australia - A3 poster

This poster provides key differences between each COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Australia as per the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) guidelines, and has been updated to reflect the new variants available: 


Practice Updates


MyMedicare – Patient Registration Campaign 2024 

MyMedicare is a voluntary patient registration system, that aims to strengthen the relationship between patients, their general practice, general practitioner (GP) and primary care teams.  

In 2024, the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care will launch a patient registration campaign to inform and encourage patients to register with their general practice.  

We encourage practices to start registering regular patients now – particularly those who would benefit from the new longer telehealth services linked to MyMedicare registration, such as those living with chronic disease, or patients who live in residential aged care.  

A communication kit has been developed with a range of resources to support health professionals in having conversations with patients, including FAQs, factsheets, a brochure, and posters. Download the communication kit here.  

Further information and links to the MyMedicare program can be found on the Practice Assist MyMedicare webpage. 



MyMedicare patient resources translated into multiple languages

To assist patients from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds with MyMedicare, general practices can download and share a range of translated resources.
There are fact sheets, brochures and posters available in Arabic, Chinese, Greek, Italian, Korean and Vietnamese.
Visit the Department of Health and Aged Care website to download the translated MyMedicare resources.



Midland location of WA’s sixth Medicare Urgent Care Clinic

A sixth Medicare Urgent Care Clinic (UCC) for Western Australia has been confirmed at North Street Medical Centre, supporting the wider Midland area. The Midland UCC opened on the 11 December. The clinic provides treatment for urgent, but not life-threatening, illnesses and injuries requiring same day assessment for people who may otherwise have visited an emergency department.
Read more


Beware of fraudulent calls impersonating ADHA staff

The Australian Digital Health Agency has received reports of fraudulent phone calls from individuals or organisations who claim to represent the Australian Digital Health Agency.

The Agency would like to reassure practices that they would never ask any provider or consumer to share personal information over the phone.

If you receive a call from someone who asks for your personal information, please hang up immediately and report it to Scam Watch online

You can also stay up-to-date with the latest scams and subscribe to receive free alerts here

Email further queries to the help desk via


Free multilingual telephone hotline for people affected by overseas conflicts

People in Western Australia affected by overseas conflicts can call a free, confidential multilingual telephone hotline for information about available support and connection to local services.
The hotline is staffed by mental health practitioners and bicultural support workers who can speak Arabic, Hebrew, Dari, Ukrainian and English or other languages with an interpreter.
For further information, people in Western Australia can free call the hotline on 1800 845 198 from 7am to 4pm, Monday to Friday.
Flyers are available to download and share in Arabic, Hebrew, Dari, Ukrainian and English.


Refer an older person to receive friendship and companionship from a volunteer visitor

The Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme (ACVVS), supports regular in-person volunteer visits to give friendship and companionship to older people. Visits are available to anyone receiving government-subsidised aged care services in an aged care home or through a Home Care Package (HCP), including care recipients approved or on the National Priority System.
Regular visits from volunteers can help improve the quality of life of older people and help them feel less isolated.
For volunteers, becoming an aged care volunteer visitor can be a rewarding and life-changing experience. You will make a friend, share stories and help someone who might be feeling isolated or lonely.
Volunteers usually visit for an hour once a fortnight at a time that suits both the volunteer and the older person.
During a visit a volunteer and older person can do anything you both feel like doing such as:

  • enjoy a chat over a cup of tea
  • take a walk
  • work on a joint hobby together.

The Department of Health and Aged Care works with around 140 community organisations to recruit and support volunteers to visit older people.
Older people can be referred for volunteer visits by aged care service providers, family members or friends, or they can refer themselves.
Request a volunteer visitor (for a patient or someone else) or become a volunteer visitor today.



Changes to Palliative care entry process to residential aged care homes

From 1 October 2023, the updated palliative care entry process helps residential aged care providers appropriately support individuals entering residential aged care homes to receive palliative care.
Under the new process, an individual’s palliative care entry status can be determined by a medical assessment. The assessment must take place either prior to their entry into a residential aged care service, or within the first 14 days after entry.
The palliative care medical assessment must be completed by a medical practitioner (doctor) or nurse practitioner who is independent of the aged care provider. The assessment outcome must be recorded on the updated Palliative care status form.
For residential aged care entry, palliative care status refers to individuals with:

  • an estimated life expectancy of three months or less
  • an Australia-Modified Karnofsky Performance Status (AKPS) score of 40 or less.

The palliative care status form recognises that life expectancy is an estimate based on the patient’s condition at the time of the medical assessment.
For more information visit Palliative care entry into aged care homes and Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN-ACC) assessment pathways fact sheet.


North Metro Health Youth Mental Health Support

The Youth Community Assessment Treatment Team (YCATT) are accepting referrals from all sources, including health service providers, general practitioners, NGOs, schools / education providers, Department of Communities, psychologists, hospitals, families, friends, and individuals, as well as self-referring.

For more information or to discuss a potential referral, please contact our triage officer via (08) 6382 3700.

View the YCATT Flyer for more information, and or YCATT Referral Form to make a referral.


Central Referral Service - Failed Faxes Notice

Please be advised that the Central Referral Service (CRS) has become aware of numerous general practices experiencing difficulties in sending referrals via online fax to the CRS from Monday 27 November to Wednesday 6 December 2023.
Impacted general practices received an automated failed fax notification from their online fax provider to advise when a fax was not successfully received at CRS and where possible, general practices also received a call from the CRS team if the fax was partially received (i.e. missing pages or attachments). Impacted general practices have subsequently received correspondence from their online fax provider to make them aware of the issue and to confirm the issue is now resolved.
To ensure that the CRS has received all referrals, please resend any referrals that were transmitted to CRS via online fax within the timeframe noted above and, where a referral acknowledgement notification from CRS was not received.
The CRS has also received an increased volume of duplicate referrals during this period. If you are sending referrals via an alternative mechanism to online fax and have received referral acknowledgement notifications, please do not re-send your referrals as they have been successfully received. CRS can accept referrals via secure messaging, fax (traditional and online) or post. The preferred method for receiving referrals at CRS is via secure messaging.
If your practice experiences any further issues with the reliability of your online fax services, please lodge a support ticket with your service provider.
If you have any questions, please contact CRS via 1300 551 142 or


Digital Health Updates


Telehealth rollout to residential aged care homes in WA

WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) has commissioned telehealth technology provider Visionflex to deploy telehealth carts to participating residential aged care homes (RACHs) across Western Australia.

The new technology is now available in 75 RACHs across the state. Approximately 150 RACHs in total have expressed interest in securing equipment to enhance their residents’ health care experience.

GPs and health care providers can monitor residents’ vital signs and manage imaging for wounds and skin conditions via the new equipment. Clinicians can access remotely through the Visionflex ProEX software for free as part of the package for the first 12 months. After this time RACHs can continue with their own subscription or use Healthdirect for free.

The carts are expected to improve access to primary care services, reduce travel time for health care professionals, facilitate better management of chronic conditions, increase early intervention, and potentially decrease hospital admissions, especially in the after-hours period.

The response from RACHs who have received the equipment has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We are very excited about the telehealth machine and how this can help our residents and nurses” - Corrina Alderson, Residential Manager at Juniper
“The process is quick and efficient, and the cart allows for a full telehealth assessment with the nurse practitioner and GP being able to visualise the patient, other health practitioners and clinical data like vital observations that are displayed instantaneously on the screen.  In time once more staff have been trained and feel comfortable with the setup, it will become a very important piece of infrastructure within the facility.” - Max, Nurse Practitioner at Juniper
“We, at Howard Solomon Residential Care, are very excited about the opportunity to set up telehealth at the facility. The technology will allow us to provide earlier interventions for residents of our facility and hopefully avoid the stress of ambulance transfers and long waiting periods in the local hospitals.” - Marie-Louise MacDonald, Group Chief Executive Officer at MCWA

In addition to the provision of telehealth equipment, WAPHA is undertaking activities to support RACHs to enhance and after hours planning processes and plans for residents who require after-hours care to avoid unnecessary hospital transfers. 
Visionflex is providing all sites that have received the equipment with training for staff. To provide further support, a GP telehealth webinar has been scheduled during the first week of February 2024. Resources are also being developed by Visionflex, including telehealth training modules and a telehealth video for GPs.
Enquiries about the telehealth carts and rollout can be sent to

Read more about how we are taking on an enhanced role in supporting the health and wellbeing of older Australians through our Aged Care Program.

The WAPHA Digital Health Team deploying telehealth carts to participating residential aged care homes (RACHs) across Western Australia
From left to right: Juniper Sarah Hardey, Bethanie Kingsley, MyVista Mirrabooka, Italian Village, Wanneroo Nursing Home, Juniper Northam, Adventist Care Rossmoyne



Future ready health care in residential aged care homes - linking to the MBS

*Source: According to the Intergenerational Report released 24 August 2023: 2023 Intergenerational Report

Telehealth Benefits 

  • Improved access Telehealth provides access to services that may not be available locally, and without need to travel.
  • Greater choice Telehealth supports greater consumer choice around engaging with preferred health professionals.
  • Reduced risk Telehealth can reduce exposure to communicable diseases and infection.
  • Improved continuity of care Telehealth supports regular check-ups and monitoring with the patient’s usual provider and practice.
  • Improved quality of life Telehealth can reduce the need for unnecessary hospital visits.
  • Convenience Appointments can be scheduled at a convenient time for the patient and their health care provider.

Fact sheets about MBS telehealth eligibility

Eligibility requirements and exemptions for MBS telehealth services apply nationally, including for patients who live in RACHs. Additional information is in the MBS Online Factsheets below.
  • For GP and Other Medical Practitioners (OMP) eligibility requirements please see the MBS Telehealth GP and OMP Factsheet.
  • For Specialist eligibility requirements please see the MBS Telehealth (factsheet titled Specialists Telehealth Services).
  • For Mental Health, Allied Health and Nurse Practitioner eligibility requirements see relevant factsheets on the MBS Telehealth for further detail.
  • For correct claiming of bulk billed MBS telehealth services, including verbal consent, a factsheet provides further information.
Health care professionals are also encouraged to register their regular patients (if eligible) at their practice under MyMedicare. There are some MBS telehealth items and incentives that are exclusively available to patients registered in MyMedicare.

Alternative telehealth options

Multidisciplinary Case Conferences
  • These items can be used in a range of scenarios.
  • These items do not require the patient’s presence, but they do require three or more health professionals to participate in the case conference. A patient’s consent must be obtained and recorded to use these items for all professionals.
For further information on the above MBS items please see MBS Online.

Patient support
Practice nurse, Aboriginal Health Worker and optometry patient support MBS items may be claimed when assistance is provided to patients to access private non-GP specialist and consultant physician services. Other MBS telehealth items continue to support multidisciplinary care and case-conferences with specific items for GPs, Specialists and Allied Health Providers, where appropriate.

MBS Notes

Please refer to the following notes for the latest updates:

Multidisciplinary items

To claim against MBS telehealth items, the patient must be present, although they may be assisted by a nurse or other carers if required.

Please note

While there are no RACH specific MBS telehealth items, standard MBS telehealth items can be used when seeing patients in a RACH.
This information is from the Aged Care Telehealth Resource Guide for Healthcare Professionals Supporting Residential Aged Care Homes, last revised October 2023.



Finish off the year strong by registering for Provider Connect Australia

As the end of year approaches, there’s an efficient way to update the business details of GPs and other healthcare providers moving in and out of your practice. The free Provider Connect Australia (also known as PCA), an initiative of the Australian Digital Health Agency (the Agency), provides a single place to update your business information and services, which can automatically update your National Health Service Directory (NHSD) listing and your local Primary Health Network.

PCA reduces data entry duplication and improves the accuracy and quality of healthcare service information. It lets you provide consistent, up-to-date information about healthcare services to funders, health service directories, communications services, and other key partners in your healthcare service delivery.

Learn more and register here


Education & Events


Medicines in the My Health Record: Where do they come from, and can I trust them?

Presented by ACRRM & the Australian Digital Health Agency
21 December (7.00pm to 8.00pm AEST)

Exclusive ACRRM Member Webinar:

Join this 60-minute webinar led by Marwa Osman, an expert Digital Health Educator from the Australian Digital Health Agency, where they will look at medicines information in My Health Record and how it can help you fill the gap when trying to obtain a current medication list from your patients.

Key Highlights:

  • Where to find medicines information using the different ‘views’ in My Health Record
  • The pros and cons of each view to help reconcile the current prescribing and dispensing activities
  • Your questions answered by a medicines expert in My Health Record
Register now


Primary Health Care Nurses Day

Presented by APNA
7 February 2024

In 2024, APNA is launching Primary Health Care Nurses Day (7 February) to celebrate the important work of the 96,000 nurses working outside a hospital setting. People are invited to ‘wear primary colours on Primary Health Care Nurses Day’ to say thank you to these vital health care workers.

Learn more here


Other Webinars, Events & Workshops

BreastScreen WA visit to Esperance
Presented by BreastScreen WA
11 December to 18 March
Medical Costs Finder webinar for GPs
Presented by Department of Health and Aged Care
13 December
BreastScreen WA visit to Tom Price
Presented by BreastScreen WA
9 January to 15 January
BreastScreen WA visit to Paraburdoo
Presented by BreastScreen WA
16 January to 17 January
The 25th Annual Scientific Meeting
Presented by Immunisation Coalition
4 February to 5 February
WA Hepatitis B Prescriber Update
Presented by ASHM
13 February
WA HIV s100 Prescriber Course
Presented by ASHM
17 February & 18 February
National HIV s100 Peer Support and Case Discussion Session
Presented by ASHM
6 March

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.