GP Network News, Issue 10, Number 43 - 3 December 2010

3 Dec 2010

Sensible Decision on after-hours GP Care

The AMA this week welcomed the Government's decision to extend PIP after-hours incentive payments for general practice until July 2013 when Medicare Locals and alternative after-hours funding arrangements are expected to be in operation. 

AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said the funding extension would ease concerns around a possible two-year gap in funding for practices that currently provide after-hours care.

The two year extension will allow practices to continue to provide after-hours services in their communities, and provides further opportunities for discussions around ongoing after-hours services.

Dr Pesce said, we need to ensure that any new after-hours arrangement does not disadvantage any general practice currently providing after-hours care or deter them from continuing to provide after-hours care to their patients.  Click here for full press release.

Get connected, stay respected: guide to online professionalism

The AMA has launched an online professionalism guide to assist doctors and medical students to maintain professional standards when using online social media.

The guide – Social Media and the Medical Profession – has been developed by the AMA Council of Doctors-in-Training, the New Zealand Medical Association Doctors-in-Training Council, the New Zealand Medical Students’ Association and the Australian Medical Students’ Association.

The guide provides real life examples of the repercussions that doctors can encounter through the misuse of social media and aims to help doctors and students enjoy the online world safely while maintaining professional standards.

The guide and an introductory video are available here.

eHealth - Electronic Health Record

AMA Vice President, Dr Steve Hambleton, representing health professionals, spoke at the Government's eHealth Conference held on 30 November and 1 December. Dr Hambleton advised the conference that the information doctors most need from the ehealth record is:

  • pathology results; 
  • diagnostic imaging results;
  • discharge summaries; and
  • current medications and adverse events.

He also spoke about the problems of a personally controlled electronic health record, calling in the first instance for an electronically shared patient summary information that cannot be altered by the patient, and which is accessible to all doctors.  Click here for the full speech.

Collaborative Care Medico-Legal Meeting

AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, this week convened a meeting between key stakeholder medical colleges, medical indemnity insurers, the Australasian College of Nurse Practitioners and Government to examine the medico-legal risk for general practitioners arising from the collaborative care arrangements for nurse practitioners under the Medicare and Pharmaceutical benefits arrangements.

The meeting discussed the nature and scope of the potential liability for general practitioners, the legal risks for other medical practitioners, and how any legal risk could be minimised.

A joint statement setting out advice for GPs, and a plan for action for establishing guidelines around communication between nurse practitioners and GPs is being prepared and will be made available soon.

Influenza Pandemic Phase Status moves to ALERT from 1 December 2010

The Minister for Health and Ageing, on advice by the Chief Medical Officer, announced that as of 1 December 2010, Australia has moved to Pandemic Phase ALERT.  This signifies the end of the H1N1 influenza pandemic in Australia.

The key element of the ALERT phase is heightened vigilance for a new influenza virus or a change in a current circulating influenza virus, which may be of concern.

The PROTECT phase, which ended on 30 November 2010, focused on testing and early antiviral treatment of patients at high risk of severe outcomes from influenza. 

Now we are no longer in PROTECT individual patients should be managed as clinically indicated.

Vaccination remains important as a means of reducing the morbidity and mortality caused by influenza. Vaccination with either the free monovalent H1N1 vaccine (available until 31 December 2010) or trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine is still recommended for those not yet protected.   For further information regarding influenza vaccination refer to the Australian Immunisation Handbook, 9th edition.

Information about eligibility for free seasonal influenza vaccine under the National Immunisation Program is available at www.immunise.health.gov.au

For more information click here.  The AMA's Swine Influenza - information for doctors webpage has also been updated accordingly.  Click here to view.

Medicare provider number legislation review

Last Friday, the AMA held detailed one-on-one discussions with the consultants engaged by the Department of Health and Ageing to conduct the review of the Medicare provider number legislation. The consultants acknowledged the depth of the AMA’s submission to the review.

The AMA this week participated in the Medical Training Review Panel stakeholder meeting with the consultants to discuss the content of submissions received and the draft recommendations of the final report.

At both meetings, the AMA pushed strongly for a final round of grandfathering for all non-vocationally registered GPs who were accessing GP Medicare rebates prior to 1 November 1996 and have predominantly been in general practice for a minimum of five years since that date.

Diabetes Advisory Group

The Diabetes Advisory Group will meet for the first time mid next week. AMA Vice President, Dr Steve Hambleton, will be in attendance.  The AMA, following the Government's decision to pilot the Co-ordinated Diabetes Care Plan, agreed to join the Group in order to contribute to the design and evaluation processes of the pilot.

AMA participation on the group will provide an opportunity to advise how the pilot is undertaken to ensure the methodology used to measure and evaluate outcomes, both clinically and service wise, is valid and reliable. 

Easier access for reporting adverse events

Following representations by the AMA to Medicare Australia and the TGA, Medicare Australia recently advised that a link to the TGA website has been included on the Health Professional Online Service (HPOS) website.  This will make it easier for GPs and other medical practitioners to access the TGA website for reporting adverse events. 

To find out more about HPOS and the services available click here.

Nurse-led walk-in clinic - no relief for hospital A&E

A recent study has shown that Australia's first nurse-led walk-in clinic treating patients with minor ailments has actually increased presentations to the near-by emergency department by at least 3 per cent. Presentations to Canberra Hospital A&E in the 20 weeks after the clinic opened were 10 per cent higher than in the 20 weeks prior, this being higher than the expected 7 per cent for that time of year.

The study conducted by Professor Drew Richardson from the Australian National University revealed that the increase in presentations was from patients with minor problems and from patients who were sent home rather than from patients who were admitted to a ward.

These findings are not a surprise and the AMA looks forward to the promised evaluations on the number and type of presentations, treatments offered and referrals to A&E and community GPs, which is due after May 2011, following a year of operation.

 

We welcome your comments and suggestions as well.  Please tell us what you think.


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In this Issue

Sensible Decision on after-hours GP Care

Get connected, stay respected: guide to online professionalism

eHealth - Electronic Health Record

Collaborative Care Medico-Legal Meeting

Influenza Pandemic Phase Status moves to ALERT from 1 December 2010

 Medicare provider number legislation review

Diabetes Advisory Group

Easier access for reporting adverse events

Nurse-led walk-in clinic - no relief for hospital A&E

AMA members - Save up to 20% more on your I.T.

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