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Fresh eyes needed

The new year is the time for reviewing current situations, taking stock and making resolutions to improve things where required.As GPs, we need to consider the healthcare needs of our patients, how they can best be delivered, and make the changes necessary to ensure their access to quality care.

14 Jan 2013

The new year is the time for reviewing current situations, taking stock and making resolutions to improve things where required.

As GPs, we need to consider the healthcare needs of our patients, how they can best be delivered, and make the changes necessary to ensure their access to quality care. 

For many GP practices, the early part of the year will see them putting in place the requirements of the Practice Incentives Program (PIP) e-Health Incentive, and making themselves ready to use and interact with the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR). The AMA checklist prepared late last year should save you time finding the right documents in this regard.

But e-health is not just about the PCEHR.

It is also about telehealth – email, online appointment systems, e-discharge summaries, video consultations, electronic prescriptions, and so on. This technology promises efficiencies in practice and GP management of patient care, with the additional bonus of improving patient access to their GP.

Given the potential it offers to improve patient outcomes, the Department of Veterans Affairs is currently trialling an in home telemonitoring service for veterans with selected chronic conditions, enabling GPs to remotely monitor patients’ vital signs and promptly intervene if any irregularities occur.

With the growth in online shopping, it will follow that there will be demand from patients for e-access to their GP. There are already medical practitioners providing this service to patients.

There are plenty of formal guidance materials available to inform you how you might implement such services, and the AMA Council of General Practice will explore avenues for greater integration of these type of services into overall practice over the coming year. 

How to better fund the provision of quality care is another issue that will be further explored by the Council in the coming year.

Medicare rebates do not adequately reflect the true cost of being able to open our doors and provide quality care, something many other specialties came to realise years ago.

The AMA encourages GPs to set their own fees in line with their cost experience – recognising the value of your services and the significant skills GPs apply. Not doing so, only ensures the status quo.

Worldwide there is evidence that models of care that embrace the concept of a medical home are providing health savings and better health outcomes, and the recent Draft Primary Healthcare Strategic Framework has signalled the Federal Government’s intent to look more closely at this concept and how it might be applied in the Australian context.

The AMA will be at the forefront of any such debate, recognising the need to better support the comprehensive, coordinated, longitudinal care of those patients at risk, hard to reach, or with high health care needs. 

The challenge for every GP, and for the AMA, in the year ahead, will be to look with fresh eyes at what is needed to better support the viable provision of quality GP care.


Published: 14 Jan 2013