COVID-19

Resources to help to manage in a crisis.

The recent AGPA Webinar brought out some key issues that General Practice owners might consider. The webinar video and the power points are available in the members area.

Telehealth will play a major role in the management of the impact of COVID-19.
Dr Rob Hosking, GP and AGPA member has put some information together here.

Telehealth MBS item numbers and descriptions are here
AGPA March 16 media release calling for an extension of Telehealth is here

Telehealth will not cover all situations. You will need to carry out examinations and you may need PPE.
PPE is in short supply. PPE is to be provided by your PHN. If you need PPE contact your PHN.

Some key issues

Workplace Health and Safety
You have a legal responsibility to protect your staff and contractors.

Strategies proposed include:

Website and telephone booking messages requesting that patients with COVID-19 symptoms advise this before arrival, then managing symptomatic patients in a secure way.

“Do not cross tape” around the reception area to keep social isolation distances for frontline staff.

Reduce contact and risk by using Telehealth options wherever possible.

Patient Risk Mitigation
While Telehealth is an option, some patients will need physical examinations.

Minimising the risk to these patients will require some planning:
– Ensure that they are advised of the measures you are taking to protect them (Website, phone messages, signage)
– Increase social distances in waiting rooms by reducing seating capacity and spreading it out.
– Ensure tissues, hand cleaners and masks (where required) are available.
– Keep waiting rooms quiet by using Telehealth wherever possible.

Business Continuity
To be able to treat our patients we need to have viable businesses.

If you have significant numbers of Doctors unable to work then cashflow will decline, and this may present a significant business risk.

Patients will tend to avoid the risk of COVID-19 exposure by avoiding public areas and waiting rooms. They will defer non-urgent consultations, reducing cash flow for your practice.

Telehealth is an option to mitigate this
– Consultations conducted by Doctors in COVID-19 quarantine, consultations with self isolated and COVIPD-19 diagnosed patients and consultations with high risk patients are eligible for bulk billed MDS item numbers.
– Patients where there are no MBS item numbers may be prepared to be treated privately via consultations held via Telehealth.

Check your business continuity insurance – some policies specifically exclude SARS-like epidemics as a cause of business interruption.

The AGPA encourages all practices to introduce Telehealth as a consultation option as soon as possible.