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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Continuous care with telehealth stage seven

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.




WA Primary Health Alliance: COVID-19 working arrangements update

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.



Australian Digital Health Agency: Seeking Communities of Interest for EPrescribing rollout

The Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) are looking for Communities of Interest to begin the process of rolling out ePrescribing functionality. These communities will be made up of a cluster of practices and pharmacies each of which have expressed an interest in switching on the ePrescribing functionality to ensure that patients are able to have their medication dispensed quickly and securely.

Practices wishing to use ePrescribing must first ensure that they are setup to do so by completing the following checklist
  • Connect to the Health Identifiers Service
  • Obtain a NASH Certificate
  • Ensure your software is ePrescribing compliant
  • Connect to a Prescription Exchange service
If you are interested in becoming part of a Community of Interest, we recommend talking with other providers locally and contacting the WA Primary Health Alliance eHealth Team via  ehealth@wapha.org.au to discuss.




Medical profession and the community embracing technology and digital health

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

  • 22.77 million total My Health Records
  • More than 19.2 million records, or 85 per cent, now have data in them
  • 2.05 billion documents uploaded to My Health Record
  • 70 million clinical documents
  • 136 million medicine documents
  • 1.83 billion Medicare documents
  • 97 per cent of pharmacies registered and 78% using
  • 92 per cent of GPs registered and 82% using
  • 95 per cent of public hospitals registered and 91% using




Aged Care: My Health Record, Advance Care Planning (ACP) Incentive

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 roseanne.adamson@wapha.org.au.




National Bowel Cancer Screening Program results available via My Health Record (MHR)

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:

  1. logging into their MHR and removing the result; or
  2. contacting the MHR Helpline which is available 24/7 on 1800 723 471
Please note that participant’s bowel screening results are unable to be uploaded to the MHR retrospectively.
Further information is available on the My Health Record website, or by contacting the MHR team by email: MyHealthRecordTeam@wapha.org.au.



BreastScreen WA resumes mammogram screening services

BreastScreen WA – the state’s breast screening program – has resumed mammogram screening services at metropolitan clinics and rural mobile service.
Clients who have recently been invited to have a screening mammogram are encouraged to contact BreastScreen WA on 13 20 50 or visit the online booking webpage to schedule their appointment.
For more information please visit the BSWA website or the BSWA Facebook page.




Respiratory clinics, a vital front-line response to COVID-19

While daily cases in WA have slowed, GP-led Respiratory clinics provide an alternative option to regular general practices or hospital emergency departments for people with respiratory symptoms that could be COVID-19

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.



See Your GP campaign: the results are in

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.




CDCD update for Immunisation Providers following 1 July changes to schedule

Please refer to the attached letter relating to impending changes to the WA Immunisation Schedule from Wednesday 1 July 2020.
In addition:




Updated resources to reflect 1 July 2020 NIP schedule and vaccination recommendation changes

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:

In addition, NCIRS have created new immunisation schedule tables that summarise vaccine recommendations for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous people:

Refer also to the Australian Immunisation Handbook and ATAGI clinical advices on these changes.



Services Australia: Web Services July 2020 Update

Services Australia formerly the Department of Human Services has released a Web Service update for digital health and aged care channels including:

  • Medicare Online
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs - via Medicare Online
  • Australian Immunisation Register - via Medicare Online
  • PBS Online
  • Aged Care web services
Services Australia is replacing existing adaptor technology with web services technology. They will also be moving these channels from Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) security (the authentication technology currently used to submit claiming and data information to Services Australia) to its own authentication system called Provider Digital Access (PRODA).
This change won’t impact organisations using a NASH PKI certificate for healthcare provider organisations to authenticate to the Healthcare Identifiers Services and the My Health Record system. These upgrades will provide greater security for patient and provider.
Download the Web Services Update Here.
Organisations using any of these channels that have not yet done so will need to:
  • update their existing software to web services compatible software
  • upgrade their hardware to work with the updated software
  • access these channels using PRODA.

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:

And a fact sheet for general practitioners:

For further information and resources please visit the Veterans Mates website.




Management of type 2 diabetes: A handbook for general practice

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.

diabetes.pngUpdates to the diabetes handbook include completely new sections on the following topics:

  • Early-onset type 2 diabetes
  • Mental health and type 2 diabetes
  • Management of type 2 diabetes in the elderly and residential aged care facilities
  • The use of technology in managing type 2 diabetes
Additionally, significant updates to existing sections include:
  • Reproductive health: removal of advice on management of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
  • Managing cardiovascular risk: new recommendation for the use of sodium glucose co-transporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors and glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1 RAs) in people with type 2 diabetes in the setting of cardiovascular disease and suboptimal glucose control.
  • Managing risks and other impacts of diabetes: inclusion of a new section on diabetes management for people fasting during Ramadan.

The handbook is only available online and can be accessed by visiting www.racgp.org.au/diabetes-handbook




Introduction of CAMHS Emergency Telehealth Service (ETS)

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.




WA GP Invitation Survey of Weight Management Care 2020

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 Update: The Doctor's Bag app

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 module provides recommended doses for drugs in the PBS Prescriber Bag, including adrenaline doses for anaphylaxis and calculators for weight-based dosing in children. It acts as an emergency backup, providing reassurance that the correct dose has been given. It can also be used as an educational tool in non-emergency settings. The information is kept up to date as the contents of the PBS Prescriber Bag change.
  • The Anaphylaxis Management module is based on the popular Anaphylaxis: emergency management for health professional wallchart published by Australian Prescriber in 2011 and updated in 2018.

The Doctor’s Bag app is available to download from the NPS MedicineWise website




COVID-19 Mental Health pathway is now available on HealthPathways

The following pathway has now been published on the HealthPathways website:
  • COVID-19 Mental Health: the pathway contains general guidance and local resources to support patients who may be experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety or other mental health concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service -Emergency Telehealth Service
The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) Emergency Telehealth Service (ETS) launches on 13 July.. For more information see the CAMHS ETS flyer and the Acute Child Mental Health Assessment pathway.
GP Education Event
A GP education event, Ageing and Beyond, will be held on Saturday 15 of August in collaboration with Joondalup Health Campus, North Metropolitan Health Service and RACGP. This activity is pending approval for 40 CPD Accredited Activity (formerly Category 1 QI&CPD) points through RACGP and for 4 Educational Hours and 3.5 Performance Review Hours through ACRRM.
The event will involve lead clinicians including geriatricians, palliative care specialists and stroke unit specialists, as well as medical educators and facilitators. The event will cover the following topics:
  • Delirium and dementia investigations and referral pathways
  • Assessment and management of vascular and neuro-degenerative conditions
  • Clinical differences of the spectrum in cognitive decline in the context of frailty, delirium and dementia
  • How the goals of care and advance care planning can contribute to end of life planning in the clinical context of advanced malignancy and dementia.
Registration for the event is essential as numbers will be capped. For further information on this event see the Ageing and Beyond flyer or email the HealthPathways team at healthpathways@wapha.org.au.



COVID-19 testing criteria tool for GPs

A reminder that the WA Department of Health testing criteria tool is available for GPs and provides the most up to date advice on who can/should be tested and where.
This tool is based on the latest clinical advice provided by the Department of Health.
Patient details are optional, but submitting the form creates a PDF to give patients and/or add to their medical records to show their COVID-19 risk status at a point in time.
The tool is accessible via the ‘COVID-19 Assessment and Management’ HealthPathway.




GP Urgent Care: Update

As COVID-19 restrictions ease here in Western Australia, practices participating in the GP Urgent Care project have seen some common presentations with patients attending for appointments in the last month.
The top ten presentations for GP Urgent Care practices include:
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Mental health - various
  • Throat infections and coughs
  • Pregnancy
  • Wound management
  • Sprains - ankles
  • Wound infections
  • Wrist and hand injuries including fractures
  • Head injuries
  • Gastro
Tips for GP Urgent Care Surgeries
  • At the end of every month practices are required to run a report on the GP Urgent Care patients seen that month and then ensure that patient evaluations are submitted through MEDrefer
  • A quick and easy way to do this is via Health Engine through the management portal:
Click ‘Online Bookings’, click ‘Apply Filter’, select ‘Specialty’ and then leave only ‘Urgent Care’ and apply the filter. You can then filter by month for viewing if you prefer.  
For further assistance on other booking platforms or software please contact the GP Urgent Care Project Officer: Cheryl Bell via  0429 126 925 or urgentcare@wapha.org.au.




Allocation of surgical masks from the National 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




BeyondBlue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service

Beyond-Blue.pngBeyondBlue has launched a free 24/7 Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service to address the growing mental health impact of the pandemic, including fear about the virus, financial stress, business closure, family stress, anxiety and loneliness.

The service offers easy access to a broad range of practical supports from online wellbeing tips, self-help tools to phone counselling from trained mental health professionals and peer to peer support.
Patients can access the service at https://coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au/ or by phoning 1800 512 348




Helpline to assist health professionals deliver care to people with disability during COVID-19

The Australian Government Department of Health has established a new service to provide specialised advice to health professionals regarding the care of a person with disability diagnosed with COVID-19 or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
It can also support GPs to address communication and management issues, such as behaviours of concern and the reduction of risk to the patient and staff involved in the process.
GPs can speak to health professionals with disability service qualifications and experience on 1800 131 330 between 7am – 11pm (AEST) 7 days a week.
The helpline will be available on a trial basis to 18 August, at which point it will be assessed based on utilisation and future need.
Healthdirect Australia has been engaged to manage the helpline on behalf of the Australian Department of Health.




WAPHA: Free general practice wellness program

WA Primary Health Alliance is offering FREE counselling support for all GPs and their practice staff across WA through the long established and experienced employee assistance program provider, AccessEAP, to support WA general practice teams, navigate the COVID-19 response
Further information is provided in the attached brochure.
When you call to access the service, you must identify as a Member of WA Primary Health Alliance.
To book a phone or video counselling appointment, you can call AccessEAP anytime on 1800 818 728.
GPs and practice staff can also contact Practice Assist on 1800 2 ASSIST with any questions about the program.




Health Promotion Events

Stress Down Day is Friday 24 July

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.


Suggestions for Stress Down Day

  • Host your own trivia competition in the workplace
  • Hold a bad joke contest with your colleagues this Stress Down day and bring the power of laughter into your workplace to help people stress less and feel better
  • Encourage everyone to wear silly slippers or replace work pants for pyjama pants
  • See if your CEO will wear a ridiculous costume for the day

Coming up soon…
National Pain Week July 22-28
Donate Life Week June 26-August 2
World Hepatitis Day July 28
Gastroschisis Awareness Day July 30
World Breastfeeding Week August 1-7
Crazy Hair Day August 7




An update on the Practice Assist Resource Library

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:

General Practice Accreditation

Human Resources and Staff Management

Practice Manager Practice Nurse Medical Receptionist Nurse Practitioner General

Medicare Benefits Schedule

Nurses in general practice

Programs and National Schemes

Quality Improvement

Clinical Resources


The Practice Assist team values your feedback, if you have a ‘new idea’ for a resource or ‘feedback ‘please email this through to practiceassist@wapha.org.au.




Webinars and online training

All events are listed on our Webinars and Workshops page.

Healthdirect Video Call Familiarisation Webinars
Presented by Healthdirect
View a recorded session here
Recorded session
Online mental health case discussion and peer support group for GPs
Presented by Black Dog Institute
Multiple dates
STIs in WA Primary Care
Presented by SHQ
Various dates through to 18 July
Transforming healthcare in Australia with remote patient monitoring
Presented by DHCRC, Curtin University and La Trobe University
Monday 20 July

GP Urgent Care (practices only): Respiratory infections
Presented by RACGP

Monday 20 July
STI and BBV Nursing: An Introduction
Presented by ASHM
Tuesday 21 July
Bouncing Back from Rock Bottom – Presenting Heath Black
Presented by Western Australian Mental Health Commission
Thursday 23 July
5th edition accreditation
Presented by AAPM
Thursday 23 July
GP Urgent Care (practices only): Mental health urgencies
Presented by RACGP
Monday 27 July
Hepatitis C in NSP Settings
Presented by ASHM
Tuesday 4 August
GP Urgent Care Workshop 6 Month Evaluation
Presented by WAPHA
Thursday 13 August
Responding to Disclosure of Sexual Assault
Presented by Women’s Health & Family Services
Tuesday 25 August
Improving Patient Outcomes and Experience
Presented by the Public Sector Network
Thursday 10 September
COVID-19 Infection Control Training
Presented by Department of Health
Online training
Chronic Disease Management and Healthy Ageing Program
Presented by APNA
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.