To encourage patients to receive continuous care from their regular General Practitioner or medical practice, The Australian Government Department of Health has announced from July 20 Telehealth GP providers will soon be required to have an existing and continuous relationship with a patient in order to provide Medicare-subsidised telehealth services.
A relationship is defined as the patient having seen the same practitioner for a face-to-face service in the last 12 months or having seen a doctor at the same practice for a face-to-face service during the same period.
Patients under 12 months and those experiencing homelessness will be exempt.
Updated information will be uploaded onto the Practice Assist and WA Primary Health Alliance website and distributed through the COVID-19 GP Update and Practice Connect as soon as it becomes available.
Read the full announcement here.
As part of WA Primary Health Alliance’ organisational response to COVID-19, we are undertaking a significant review of our workplace and working arrangements considering best practice for resuming work in both office and face to face settings. This includes seeking expert advice on workplace health and safety, in particular infection control.
While we are all looking forward to renewed face-to-face contact with our colleagues and stakeholders, we are fortunate that due to the nature of our work, we have been and can continue to be highly effective in working remotely.
Most challenges that have come up in the past few months have been overcome using technology, or simply by thinking and organising things a little differently. Our practice support team has been particularly innovative in the way they have introduced new ways of interacting and sharing information.
While we acknowledge the current low number of COVID-19 cases in WA, our careful approach reflects the ever-present risk of a resurgence of the virus in our state.
As the first stage in increasing face to face contact with stakeholders, we are resuming a limited number of face to face meetings where it is not possible or practical to use a virtual solution. With few exceptions, these meetings will take place at our Perth or country offices, where we have put in place processes to ensure the safety of our staff and visitors.
This decision excludes attending face to face meetings in a clinical setting, given the additional complexity and risk associated with visiting these settings to our staff, service or practice staff and patients or clients. This is particularly important for our practice support team who usually visit many practices each week.
These processes are likely to change over time, but they will remain in place until we have received expert advice on the risk profiles and risk management specific to our organisation.
Taking this cautious approach now aims to set us up for some of the increased processes and risk management approaches we will all need to adopt as we go forward.
Our Practice Assist and Practice Support teams remain committed to supporting you and we will keep you updated as we move closer to making important decisions about our future.
You can read our FAQs on our approach to remote working and face to face contact.
New research commissioned by the Australian Digital Health Agency confirms anecdotal evidence that Australians are now more open to using digital technology in healthcare and can see the importance of technology to improve health outcomes.
Agency CEO Bettina McMahon said the research provides insight on attitudinal change towards the value of technology in healthcare in the face of COVID-19 as providers and consumers had embraced digital health tools and telehealth services.
Continue reading here.
Key My Health Record statistics – May 2020
WAPHA is embarking on a project to increase the number of Aged Care providers registered and utilising My Health Record and increase the number of quality Advance care Plans uploaded into My Health Record. This will help to ensure a person’s personal preferences are known to those caring for them.
Details of the project will be available shortly but if you are interested in receiving early information please contact email@example.com.
Commencing on Monday 13 July 2020, participants in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (the Program) will have their bowel screening results uploaded to the My Health Record (MHR).
Health has been working with the Program’s pathology service provider, Sonic Healthcare (Sonic) and the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) to implement this latest initiative in results reporting. When accessing bowel screening results through the MHR, participants will see a copy of the results letter they will have received from Sonic following testing of their returned samples.
In 2019, the Program’s Participant Details form was revised for transition in November to the National Cancer Screening Register and includes a check box on the last page for participants to select if they do not wish their bowel screening results to be uploaded to the MHR. If participants do not have one of the new Participant Details form, they can handwrite on their form ‘Do not send reports to My Health Record’.
If a participant’s results are uploaded to the MHR and they want it removed, they can do this by:
The latest national figures show that about 10% of COVID-19 testing is being done in these Commonwealth funded clinics, emphasising the important role of primary care in response to COVID-19.
Ten clinics are now operational in WA, with the most recent being the Goldfields Respiratory Clinic in Kalgoorlie. An eleventh clinic will open in Victoria Park in the coming weeks.
Two clinics are run by Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service, with The Hon. Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians and Federal Member for Hasluck recently saying “they will significantly increase access to culturally safe testing and care for respiratory conditions – delivering more care for our community.
WA Primary Health Alliance has facilitated the opening of all ten clinics on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Health.
Our recent See Your GP campaign to encourage patients back into general practice was well received, with more than 1000 downloads of the campaign content for use on other organisation’s social media channels, of which 84% were from the GP section of our content hub.
Similarly, through a combination of social media, digital and print advertising, the campaign was seen online more than 5 million times, and in print, reached close to half a million readers.
While evidence is pointing to an increase in patient confidence and attendances at general practice, the campaign can be easily refocused on emerging issues for primary care as they arise throughout the course of the pandemic.
Practice resources can still be downloaded for the campaign here.
Please refer to the attached letter relating to impending changes to the WA Immunisation Schedule from Wednesday 1 July 2020.
Changes to the National Immunisation Program (NIP) Schedule and recommendations for pneumococcal, meningococcal and hepatitis A vaccination come into effect 1 July.
NCIRS have updated the following resources to reflect these changes:
Refer also to the Australian Immunisation Handbook and ATAGI clinical advices on these changes.
Services Australia formerly the Department of Human Services has released a Web Service update for digital health and aged care channels including:
For more information regarding the upgrades, contact the Health Strategy Branch, Services Australia or contact via email at servicesaustralia.A2WS@serviceasutralia.gov.au.
Veterans' MATES Program: COVID-19
The Department of Veterans' Affairs has developed the Veterans' Medicines Advice and Therapeutics Education Services (Veterans' MATES) project with the aim of improving the use of medicines and related health services in the veteran community.
The Veterans’ MATES Program has developed the following resources in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which provide specific information related to mental health and well-being during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
These materials consist of a fact sheet for DVA patients:
For further information and resources please visit the Veterans Mates website.
The RACGP and Diabetes Australia have united to support GPs in their management of type 2 diabetes through Management of type 2 diabetes: a handbook for general practice.
General practitioners have a central role in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes within the community. With the number of patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes growing, due to factors such as rising overweight and obesity rates, lifestyle and dietary changes and an ageing population, the handbook is pivotal for educating GPs, practice nurses, diabetes educators, and allied health professionals about the disease.
Updates to the diabetes handbook include completely new sections on the following topics:
The handbook is only available online and can be accessed by visiting www.racgp.org.au/diabetes-handbook
The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) is pleased to advise of a newly commissioned service offering specialist emergency mental health telehealth consultation, advice and assessments for children and young people. The service will provide an alternative for children, young people and their families to access emergency mental health care.
For further information please visit the CAMHS Emergency Telehealth Service website or contact the service on 1800 048 636.
In response to the Sustainable Health Review recommendation to halt the rise in obesity in WA by July 2024, East Metropolitan Health Service, the University of Newcastle and Curtin University are conducting a survey of health professionals.
This study aims to evaluate the WA workforce capacity, skills and training needs in the management of patients with overweight and obesity. Findings will be used to inform development of online resources supporting clinicians providing care for patients with overweight/obesity. The researchers would like to understand how GPs and other health professionals are currently delivering weight management care and to identify barriers and opportunities for improvement.
You will be asked a series of questions about your knowledge, skills and experience in providing weight management care to people overweight, and or obese.
The survey should take approximately 20-30 minutes to complete. You can complete the survey over multiple attempts and skip a question if you wish.
This is an anonymous survey. The information you provide is completely confidential. No identifiable information will be collected or used in analysis or reporting.
If you require further information or have any questions please email the survey coordinator: EMHS.ObesityPreventionStrategy@health.wa.gov.au
If you are interested in taking part in this study, please read the Information Statement and complete the online survey here.
The survey closes on Wednesday 29 July 2020. Participation is entirely your choice.
NPS MedicineWise are offering a free app designed to support Australian health professionals during emergencies.
The Doctor’s Bag app has two modules:
The Doctor’s Bag app is available to download from the NPS MedicineWise website
Friday 24 July 2020 is Stress Down Day; a fun and easy initiative designed to reduce stress and raise vital funds for Lifeline Australia.
Stress Down Day promotes happiness, encourages help seeking, and raises awareness of suicide prevention through raising funds for Lifeline's crisis support services.
Research shows that 90% of Australians need to stress less – with 74% of people reporting being stressed from work.
There are lots of ways you can laugh and get involved and help raise funds all at once on this Stress Down day in your workplace.
As part of our ongoing review of resources in the Practice Assist Resource Library.we are pleased to share the following updated and new resources:
All events are listed on our Webinars and Workshops page.
GP Urgent Care (practices only): Respiratory infections
Presented by RACGP