Evrima Technologies – Now Part of the Bp Partner Network

Evrima Technologies Blog Image

The following article was submitted by Bp Software Evrima Technologies. You can view their partner profile here

Evrima Technologies is now part of the Bp Partner Network.

Evrima makes it easier for your GP Clinic to offer Clinical Trials as a care option for your patients.

For some patients, clinical trials may be the best or only option to access treatments that are not readily available.  However, this information can be difficult for them to obtain.

As a Healthcare Professional, you are the most trusted source of information for your patients. Research shows people who haven’t been in a clinical trial before would prefer to hear about trials from their doctor or health professional and about 4 out of 5 patients would consider a clinical trial if it was recommended by their doctor.

The Evrima GP search tool, integrated with Bp Premier is free of charge and offers:

  • Access to clinical trials without administrative burden on the practice.
  • Ability to match and recommend clinical trials for your patients.
  • Enables your patients to gain access to treatments that are otherwise unavailable to them.
  • Increase awareness of new research and trials in Australia.
  • Added service to your practice to increase practice profile.
  • Participation in cutting-edge clinical research within Australia.

To activate Evrima integration with Bp Premier, simply follow this link. Once these simple steps have been completed please contact us via clinicians@evrima.com.au to finalise the simple onboarding process.

About Evrima Technologies

Evrima was founded to address the many challenges facing the clinical trial industry, in particular, patient awareness and participation. Evrima recognises the need to bring HCPs and clinical research together to advance clinical trial awareness, participation and thereby helping to accelerate medical development. Our mission is to improve the quality of care for patients by empowering doctors to discuss clinical trials with their patients, simplifying the clinical trial enrollment process and therefore improving our healthcare system.

Learn more about Evrima today by visiting their website.

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Concerned about PRODA? – A Message from Services Australia

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The following is a direct statement provided to Best Practice Software from Services Australia.

Services Australia (the agency) is pleased to be working with the Medical Software Industry Association (MSIA) to ensure their members, and more broadly the healthcare software industry developers, have the correct information available for you and your customers.

Concerns have been raised about the changes to the way healthcare locations transmit claims and payments with the Medicare (including AIR and DVA), PBS and Aged Care programs. We want to assure you that the considerable effort you have put into developing and transitioning to web services and PRODA is not in vain.

Confusion About Services Offered by Provider Digital Access (PRODA)

PRODA is an online authentication system that verifies an organisation or individuals’ identity. It is used by multiple programs and services to ensure the right person is accessing the right services. Once authentication is verified through PRODA, the user is passed to the services they are already registered for. Users do not have to register more than once for PRODA.

The services that use PRODA to authenticate are not limited to healthcare programs, and include a range of services from Student Services, Child Care and eInvoicing.

eInvoicing is not for Medicare, PBS or Aged Care claims and payments. eInvoicing is a program that allows government departments to speed up the way they invoice and pay for goods and services (moving away from sending invoices). It is used for government contracts and payments between government departments.

Other Concerns Identified

Sharing of information: PRODA is used for authentication services for many programs, Once authenticated, no details of your secure transactions with linked services are shared outside that program.

Web services: Moving Medicare, Aged Care and PBS claims and payments to web services is part of the Health Delivery Modernisation Budget Initiative to remove adaptors and the significant technical debt and the log4j vulnerabilities associated with them. Claims are assessed and processed in the same way, regardless of the technology the transmission is submitted through.

Authenticating of behalf of customer: Software developers are able to continue to offer their customers the ability to authenticate on their behalf or have their customers (i.e the site) authenticate themselves.

Organisation structures: There is no requirement for Medicare, Aged Care and PBS healthcare locations, including shared GP practices, to set up an entirely new business structure for claims and payments.

Medicare claiming using a PRODA account: Healthcare providers can use their patient management system and web services/PRODA organisation account to claim for Medicare.  The PRODA organisation account is linked to the healthcare provider’s Minor ID or multiple Minor IDs.

A provider may choose to submit claims authenticated by their own PRODA account for the practice location they are servicing from. Alternatively, if there are a number of providers servicing from a location, one provider may submit claims on behalf of other providers. This model requires consent from the other servicing providers.

Re-signing up to PRODA: A user is not required to re-sign up to PRODA. A PRODA user only needs to register once and can use this account to link to multiple services. Signing up to PRODA does not request or confirm tax requirements. The organisation set up for submitting claims to Medicare is not for tax purposes.

Important Information for 13 March 2022

Please know that we understand the large amount of pressure the healthcare industry is under. We appreciate your significant efforts in supporting your customers to either transition to web services or to ensure their renewed PKI certificates are installed.

We’ve already let you know that we will not be turning off adaptor technology on 13 March 2022. If your customers are having trouble transmitting claims online from midday on 13 March 2022, it will be because they have not installed their renewed PKI certificate.

The agency is ready to assist you in monitoring your customers’ progress in installing their renewed certificates and to confirm any that may be at risk of not having their certificate installed in time.

In the weeks after 13 March 2022, we will contact developers and healthcare locations that are still transmitting on adaptors and have not requested and been approved for additional time.

For More Information

You can find out more about linking PRODA services here.

For eLearning, simulations and guides about PRODA click here.

You can find out more about eInvoicing here.

If you still can’t find the information you need, please contact us here.

We’ll work with you to provide the right information to your customers.

Identifying and Responding to Substance Abuse Disorders: The ASSIST

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The ASSIST is a World Health Organisation endorsed screening and brief intervention framework, designed to help clinicians identify and respond to substance use disorders. ASSIST screens for all drugs, legal and illegal, and stratifies risk for each substance into low, moderate and high levels.

ASSIST Screen 1

ASSIST has several advantages over other screening tools. First, ASSIST covers all drugs, including legal drugs like alcohol or tobacco, and illegal drugs like cannabis, methamphetamine or opioids (and more). Importantly, ASSIST is also able to identify use of non-medical use of prescription drugs. The benefit therefore, over other screening tools, is that ASSIST can also capture polydrug use which is an increasingly common occurrence in primary health settings.

How Does ASSIST Connect to Primary Health?

By providing primary healthcare clinicians with the tools to manage low to moderate risk substance use disorders in-clinic, the ASSIST also has the capacity to reduce the burden of unnecessary referrals to specialist alcohol and other drug (AOD) services. The ASSIST triages risk for the patient into low, moderate or high risk for each substance, and connects that stratification to an appropriate intervention. For low and moderate risk clients, a purpose-built brief intervention is appropriate. 

Therefore, these patients can and should be managed by the primary health clinician rather than being referred to specialist services.

For high-risk cases however, an ASSIST score can also be used as the basis of a referral to specialist AOD service for further assessment or treatment. Only those at high-risk are candidates (those who score 27+ on a given drug) to be referred to specialist AOD services for assessment and treatment if required.  

We have therefore actively encouraged the primary healthcare sector to use the ASSIST to identify those who are at high risk of dependence, and respond by sending only those individuals for further specialist AOD assessment.  

Currently, some specialist AOD services require an ASSIST assessment as part of the referral process. Having an awareness of the ASSIST and how it connects primary and specialist AOD services will be an important feature of the prevention of substance use disorders moving forward.

A new ASSIST word processing template is now available for use within Bp Premier.

The ASSIST program was developed by Associate Professor Robert Ali (MBBS, FAChAM, FAFPHM) and Dr Matthew Stevens (PhD) from the University of Adelaide. 

The full summary of the ASSIST program is available to read here.

NASH Certificates – It’s Time to Renew!

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National Authentication Service for Health (NASH) Certificates are issued by Services Australia to your Practice to securely access and share information using digital health systems.  NASH Certificates for many practices in Australia will expire on or before 13th March 2022 as Services Australia upgrade the certificate security.

What Purpose do NASH Certificates Serve?

In your Best Practice Software product, your NASH Certificate is used to support the following functions:

  • My Health Record
  • Electronic Prescribing with eRx
  • Healthcare Identifiers (HI) service for both eligibility and validation checks

These certificates expire every two years, and a current NASH certificate is required to continue to use the functions listed above. Previously, the HI Service, and eRx both used your Practice’s Medicare Site Certificate for these secure communications instead, however both services now require the use of your NASH certificate.

Updating Your NASH Certificate

If your certificate is due to expire on or before 13th March 2022, you can renew this now, there is no need to wait until the expiry date.  You can request and download a renewed NASH Certificate for your Practice through Healthcare Professions Online Services (HPOS), and install this into your software. Doing so ensures that My Health Record, prescribing with eRx, and HI lookups will continue to function in your Practice without interruption.

To request an updated NASH Certificate, your practice’s nominated Organisation Maintenance Officer needs to log onto the HPOS portal through your practice’s PRODA account and request an updated certificate.  The Australian Digital Health Agency have provided several resources to assist with requesting your new Certificate, including:

Once you have renewed your NASH Certificate, you can then install this into your software to continue your access to My Health Record, prescribing with eRx, and the HI service. 

Need Extra Assistance?

Not sure what to do in your software? Help is available on our Knowledge Base! Simply log in to your software, open the ‘Help’ menu, and click ‘Online’ to be taken to the relevant Knowledge Base to find step-by-step instructions to guide you through this process. As always, the Bp Support team are here to help as well, and you can contact us on 1300 401 111 for assistance.

Authored by:

Bec Bland Blog Author Image

Bec Bland
Training & Deployment Leader at Best Practice Software

The New Generation of Practice Management Systems – From Interoperability to AI

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Early practice management systems (PMS) were born out of the need to provide better continuity of care for patients and more efficient operations for a GP/practice, both of which contribute to the improved quality and safety of care delivery. They have created significant and perhaps intangible benefits to individuals and society over the last several decades.

The new technology enablers, however, make it possible to transform PMS into more federated, better connected, and evidence-based systems by leveraging the emerging interoperability standards and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies.  This will make the new generation of PMS even more central to primary care systems within the overall healthcare care continuum.

This will enable future generations of Best Practice Software to bring many new benefits to patients, practitioners, and the community at large – contributing to a ‘more sophisticated and connected community healthcare management’, as mentioned in a recent Wild Health article.

Technology Enablers

The technology enablers include web-based and cloud infrastructure, now being used as the basis for the next generation of Best Practice Software, referred to internally as Titanium.

When used in conjunction with new interoperability standards such as HL7 FHIR®, cloud technology adds new mechanisms to the way various parties in the delivery of healthcare are connected, including support for patient engagement.

Through the cloud, AI solutions can be built leveraging huge amounts of data created by clinicians, including as part of collaboration with other clinicians, and in some cases, generated by medical devices. Such solutions can provide new insights to the clinicians and support new models of clinician-patient collaborations, with added emphasis on preventative and personalized health.

The Added Value of Interoperability

Architecting for interoperability adds dynamic and evolvable aspects to the way health systems of the future are connected, typically using APIs over cloud. This allows constructing and managing flexible event-driven clinical workflows supporting multiple participants, including hospitals, Aged Care facilities, community health centres, and patients.  This is not currently possible using HL7 v2 messaging integration approaches.

The emerging HL7 FHIR® standard provides a common information model for representing digital health data (the so called FHIR Resource entities) and API interfaces, both of which support building interoperable and connected digital health systems, and many international vendors are now embracing it.  In some cases, this is in response to regulatory requirements, such as the US Office of National Coordinator (ONC) cure act Final Rule.  This rule was designed to give patients and their healthcare providers secure access to health information. It also aims to increase innovation and competition by fostering an ecosystem of applications to provide patients with more choices in their healthcare, in part through the standardized API interfaces.

Best Practice Software recognizes the many benefits that the FHIR® standard can bring in the context of cloud technologies and is currently establishing a long term FHIR® adoption roadmap as part of its strategic direction.

The Added Value of AI

In general, AI is a collection of interrelated technologies used to solve problems autonomously and perform tasks to achieve defined objectives without explicit guidance from a human being. AI adds value through automating many tasks typically involving human actions and decision making.

Examples of AI use in healthcare are in the interpretation of medical images, e.g., X-rays and MRI scans, in the personalized treatment of patients based on their medical history and genetics, and in the optimization of clinical workflows.

A key component of AI is machine learning (ML), whereby computers ‘learn’ without being explicitly programmed, making use of the large amount of clinical data collected over time (aka training data) and applying advanced computational reasoning techniques. This can be in the form of:

  1. statistical machine learning searching for a predictive function from the training data
  2. reinforcement learning approaches constructing AI algorithms with “rewards” or “penalties” based on their problem-solving performance, inspired by control theory approaches
  3. deep learning solutions based on the use of artificial neural networks.

Other AI applications are in natural language processing, computer vision, used in many clinical image processing applications, and robotics. Another area of use in health is knowledge representation, particularly used to document clinical knowledge in a computable form such as SNOMED-CT clinical terminology.

Many rule-based Clinical Decision Support (CDS) systems can also be regarded as a form of AI.  Best Practice Software has included since its initial release CDSs aimed at helping clinicians to provide safer and more personalized healthcare. For example, when prescribing, background checks are made for potential allergies, drug interactions, contra-indications etc.  The use of new AI approaches can add another level to CDS, leveraging data-based solutions, contributing to better evidence-based healthcare provision.

Best Practice Software is currently looking at AI technologies for its future products to advance the creation of learning health systems for primary health providers as part of connected health ecosystems. The aim is to support more effective, evidence-based, and personalized clinical care and adaptable clinical workflows, as well as more efficient administrative operations of practices, based on the large volumes of historic data that has been collected. Possibilities include analysis of previous investigations of patients to support predictive clinical actions, text mining of correspondence with specialists, hospitals, and other clinicians, to help better decision making in case of similar future symptoms and so on.

While interoperability delivers more connected and event-driven care, analytics and AI provide augmented decision making for clinicians.

Establishing Trust for Providers and Consumers - Guidance for Developers

An important consideration when discussing AI technologies is to ensure that clinicians trust the decisions that are made as a result of the use of the AI system. This is often referred to as an explainability problem, which requires mechanisms to support clinicians in understanding how AI systems make decisions.

There is a further element of trust, whereby that learning health systems need to ensure that personal and societal confidence in IT systems is preserved in the presence of the data proliferation and sharing. To this end special care needs to be taken to express rules related to privacy, policy and ethics.  These concerns were discussed at more length in the paper delivered by Best Practice Software at the recent AI in Healthcare workshop in Oct 2021, and highlighted next.

One way to create trust is to develop “explainable” AI, where developers can present the underlying basis for decision-making in a way that is understandable to humans and can demonstrate that the system is working as expected by clinicians.

Another part of the guidance for developers is related to the problem of expressing computable expressions of policies, such as obligations, permissions, accountability, responsibility, and delegation. These expressions can be implemented in code as part of any digital health application, including the AI solutions. For example, they can be used to encode rules associated with privacy consent, governing the rules of access to personal healthcare information, or with research consent, governing the rules of clinical research. 

Computable expressions of policies are also important when one needs to express responsibilities associated with passing of healthcare data between providers, taking into account various legal constraints such as data ownership or custodianship or regulatory constraints associated with privacy.

AI brings its own set of policy issues such as how one can go about specifying ‘responsibility’ of AI applications, e.g. in the case of safety concerns, is this a responsibility of the AI developer, the IT staff involved in deploying the system or of the users of the system such as the clinicians.

These are issues which are currently yet to be addressed as part of legal systems, but the computable policy framework should be a required prerequisite when building scalable AI in any healthcare organization.

Co-authored by:

New Generation of Practice Management Systems Author Headshots

Dr Frank Pyefinch
CEO at Best Practice Software
&
Dr Zoran Milosevic
Interoperability and AI Consultant at Best Practice Software

Footnote

The paper presented at the AI in Healthcare Workshop is available upon request. If you would like to obtain a copy, please contact Dr Zoran Milosevic here.

Vaccine Hesitancy – Navigating the Three Cs

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This article was contributed by guest author Tracey Johnson.

Vaccine hesitancy, along with its potential scale and impact, has become a topic of national debate since the middle of 2021.  Fortunately, we saw a rapid take-up of vaccination across the country in the final quarter of last year.  Together with every practice, we are now facing the challenge of those patients whose reluctance to embrace the COVID vaccine jeopardises community safety, health system capacity and our own team’s wellbeing.

What We Know About Vaccine Hesitancy

Vaccine hesitancy is complex.  It varies across time, place and vaccine type.  Many patients who are choosing to delay their COVID vaccination are already vaccinated for many other conditions and illnesses, and often do not consider themselves “anti-vaxxers”.  It is this group who are more likely to be influenced to adopt the jab.  Those whose stance on vaccination is long entrenched and underpinned by deep suspicions of science and institutions will continue to read extremely biased social media content and turn out to protests which only serve to reinforce their views.

So, what do we know about the more malleable and open vaccine hesitant patient?  The ‘Three Cs’ determine to what extent our public health efforts might be successful.

vaccine hesitancy venn diagram

Complacency

With Australia’s closed borders and public health measures such as mask wearing, social distancing and lockdowns, much of the population had not experienced the realities of widespread COVID transmission within the community.  Many believed that lockdowns and economic turmoil were in fact worse than COVID itself.  This is complacency in action.  Images of exhausted healthcare workers in the US, over-run hospitals in India and a mounting death toll from waves of COVID in the UK started to shift the perception by the middle of 2021.  No longer was it easy to dismiss COVID as a disease with limited and acute potential in older populations, and deaths in nursing homes.

A state like Queensland, which has only recently experienced major uncontrolled outbreaks, remained home to many complacent communities.  Late in 2021, when a COVID positive case holidaying in Townsville led to no community transmission, many held a bolstered optimism that COVID was a “city thing”. The variation in vaccination rates between metropolitan locations, and regional and rural areas which have never reported cases is stark. 

Then – COVID arrives in towns like Goondiwindi, or indigenous communities like Wilcannia.  Suddenly, there are frantic calls for vaccination.  Complacency can be overturned when figures near to the community, or with whom the community identify, speak to the ever-present danger of COVID.  Localised campaigns by community leaders in various ethnic communities have shown that complacency can be overcome if knowledge is shared by trusted figures and imminence is emphasised.  We have been working closely with our PHN to share video case studies and engage community leaders.  We even ran a shared medical appointment model involving an interpreter and community leader to kick off our vaccination drive in the Somali community in our South-East QLD suburb of Inala.

Confidence

Confidence should be easy to build in a vaccine launch environment unlike any we have ever seen.

Having worked in drug discovery, I have personally attested to groups of our patients how “drug development as usual” occurs.  Months waiting for grant applications to be reviewed, months more waiting for ethics applications to be approved, study launch hoping to attract a few willing volunteers meeting strict criteria, data analysis and reporting leading to the next grant.  The cycle repeats year after year.  Even when data is great, years are lost waiting for government food and drug agencies to consider new drug registration and reimbursement applications.  The time lost to waiting for money and approvals can easily account for half of the time.  

When it came to developing a vaccine for COVID – money was poured at the problem.  Scientists worked around the clock with growing teams.  They built on drug platforms discovered years before and applied them to COVID.  Governments prioritised consideration of drug registration applications and pre-purchased drugs even before they were fully validated.  With over 3 billion people now vaccinated, speedy adverse event reporting and timely data on deaths from vaccination versus outcomes for the unvaccinated, data is our friend in building confidence in the science. 

vaccine hesitancy quote Tracey Johnson

We keep our COVID resources in a shared clinical drive so that the latest information is at the fingertips of our entire team.  Active discussion on our “teams” channel rapidly disseminates great statistics to combat vaccine hesitancy.  The University of Queensland produced a tool highlighting your chances of getting struck by asteroids, cracking a double yoke egg and all sorts of other meaningful comparisons to highlight the advantages of vaccination.  Such tools are great to use with patients, as they offer a somewhat light-hearted take on the very real statistics that they’re often concerned about.

Convenience

Convenience is the final pillar.  Queensland Health has done, and continues to do a great job in getting access to jabs in schools, Bunnings carparks, on weekends and promoting vaccines available in pharmacies.  Since September of 2021, there has always been a vaccine option available.  Sadly, many in our community do not tap into traditional media, so boosting knowledge around these vaccination options requires our teams’ letting patients know what they can do.  We have used social media, our team encouraging patients to walk into nearby pharmacies and promoting the free sausages available at Bunnings.  This has ensured that our already full vaccine clinics did not create a waiting list amongst patients in our own community.  Given the unattractive remuneration we receive from vaccination, our team did not hesitate to encourage patients to take up other options if it meant getting vaccination earlier.  Where we had spare vaccine doses available on the day, we administered them to vaccine hesitant patients whilst they were still committed.

Our own vaccine clinics ran from 7am until 9am for many months and still operate on Saturday mornings to ensure working and school age patients have access.  With access now so easy, we have scaled back our vaccine delivery to sessions during weekdays so that our nurses are more available to complete chronic disease and preventative health work.

With the QLD borders now open, we look closely at our patient records to assess who still needs a prompt to get vaccinated.  Our region has one of the lowest rates of vaccination in all South-East Queensland, despite our practice being one of Brisbane’s early movers to launch vaccination.  With data extraction tools like Cubiko, we have been able to identify patients whose charts indicate an absence of vaccination.  We continue to use these reports to track vaccination status in our patient population.  In the past we benefitted from Cubiko being able to tell us which patients were eligible for AstraZeneca when vaccination was staged or were no longer eligible when age restrictions were brought in.  This saved our already overwhelmed reception team many hours of searching through lists.

These lists over-sample patients as until recently there was limited capacity to draw down data from the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).  One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that Medicare Web Services is now working actively with software providers like Best Practice to link AIR History directly to a patient record.  What a boon that will be for vaccination planning, automatic recalls, and practice reminder systems!  Expect this improvement from midway through 2022.

Remain Positive - Remain Committed

Remaining positive throughout the pandemic has been the hardest thing for all healthcare providers.  However, positivity has been shown to have greater impact than just on team morale.  The media has been replete with stories around the often vocal 10% of the population that are staunchly remaining unvaccinated.  Research has shown the community responds far more favourably if the approximately 90% who are vaccinated is celebrated.  Acknowledging how common vaccination is amongst your patients can help push conservative patients over the line.  They will want to join the herd!

Working as a team is important for all healthcare provision.  This is especially important when it comes to requests for exemption from vaccination.  Our doctors and nurses agreed months ago to strictly follow the exemption process to the letter.  With shared commitment it was impossible for patients to short-circuit vaccination by appealing to the compassion of their healthcare team.  Everyone had the one message; vaccinate now.

Language Is Your Ally

In the early days our team were so polite when speaking to patients exhibiting vaccine hesitancy, even charming in the way they explained the risks of the disease and benefits of vaccination.  It did not take long for their language to harden.  We often hear accounts now of doctors telling their elderly, multi-morbid patients with many risk factors that what they know is that it is almost certain they will die if they get COVID.  

Vaccine hesitancy tracey johnson quote 2

Finally, we remain grateful for the stance taken by government that even private healthcare providers need to have all staff vaccinated.  Like many practices, some of our less educated team members were concerned about vaccination.  Highlighting to them that they will be at the front line when COVID becomes endemic ensured most were willing to get vaccinated.  We had one very reluctant team member.  The government edict around healthcare workers finally saw them book Moderna at a pharmacy just in the nick of time to meet the deadline.  Loss of rights to earn, go to restaurants and clubs did the trick!  We have seen a similar cascade amongst our younger patients and those working in sectors with vaccination mandates.

Looking Ahead

In the future, will vaccination rates remain high? 

That really depends upon government edicts and how successfully we continue to address the ‘Three Cs’. We have much we can control at a practice level to support maintenance of vaccination status.  How long key public health messages continue to emphasise the importance of vaccination will be central to our success.  The emerging science on how regularly we need boosters will be important as annual vaccinations might be resisted due to inconvenience.  If the edicts and campaigns melt away, we will probably see vaccination rates via boosters fall to levels similar to those for flu, insufficient to create herd immunity.  That means our practice systems and commitment to public health will need to fill the gap by prompting patients to get vaccinated.

Authored by:

Tracey Johnson Blog Author Image

Tracey Johnson
CEO at Inala Primary Care

Tracey Johnson is CEO of Inala Primary Care, a large general practice serving one of Queensland’s poorest suburb, located in Brisbane’s west.  

COVID-19 Vaccines and Pandemic Planning – A Retrospective

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By the time Christmas 2021 arrives, it will be roughly two years since the first appearance of COVID-19 in Wuhan. For most of us, this has been a very long, frustrating, and unfamiliar two years. But it is a time that our generation should never forget. Change – both planned and spontaneous – is always a challenge.

Many won’t be aware that planning for pandemics has been the focus of many health professionals and governments departments for decades. Way back in 2009, I was part way through my four-year term as the Mayor of Bundaberg Regional Council. While that term was such an incredibly busy time for us, I remember holding regular planning meetings in preparation for the expected arrival of Swine Flu into Australia – and subsequently into the Bundaberg region.

The things we were planning for, even in a small Regional Council in Queensland, included the logistics of setting up testing and vaccination hubs, temporary field hospitals and working out how to staff them, how to limit individuals (perhaps already infected) from entering our community and potentially spreading disease and unfortunately, planning for the inevitable need to quickly open up new cemeteries and crematoriums to accommodate casualties.

Thankfully, Swine Flu dissipated quickly and didn’t really take off in Australia. However, planning work had been going on for years because everyone working in Government Health circles knew that there would one day be another global pandemic – which due to the ubiquity of modern international travel, would spread like wildfire.

It has been fascinating watching how authorities and individuals around the world have responded, in both encouraging ways and otherwise, to this real-life global emergency. Here in Australia, and our cousins across the ditch in NZ, have been incredibly lucky to live in countries surrounded by water – creating a natural barrier to infected travellers – and with access to great technology. We are also fortunate to have universal health care systems run by skilled professions and access to a range of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines

There continues to be a lot of debate, confusion and in some instances, hesitancy about the emergency roll out of COVID-19 vaccines. One commonly heard objection to receiving COVID-19 vaccines is that they were ‘developed too quickly’. It is important to understand that many of these vaccines have been decades in the making. In fact, some of the new vaccine technology rolled out for COVID-19 was built on research originally done for other Coronaviruses such as SARS in 2003, and MERS in 2012. Since that time, many researchers have been working on developing a more universal Coronavirus vaccine that could quickly be adapted for new variants like COVID-19.

Decisions made around the world to legislate fast-tracked testing and emergency rollout of vaccines in early 2020 would not have been taken lightly and would have been made in response to horrific scenes emerging from countries hit hardest. Tens of thousands of new infections daily, overwhelmed health services, lack of basic supplies and equipment, and the stark reality of exponentially climbing death rates.

In our corner of the world, we had a bit more time up our sleeves because decisions, while sometimes unpopular and inconvenient, were made quickly to isolate us from the potential spread of the virus. But with borders planning to reopen in the next few months, we are still quite vulnerable as vaccination rates in some areas are low.

It is so important to understand that an emergency rollout of a new vaccine does not in any way compromise the testing schedule of these vaccines. Normally, scientists would have to wait for years to secure funding to continue their work. Once COVID-19 hit, massive amounts of funding were diverted to COVID-19 vaccine research. Universities and researchers – who often worked in relative isolation – were freely sharing data, techniques, and findings to push forward their work collectively.

Approval was given to run the normal testing phases testing phases to run concurrently. Instead of waiting for Stage 1 testing to be completed and the results reviewed, approval was given to begin Stage 2 testing BEFORE Stage 1 had ended. If at any time Stage 1 failed, then Stage 2 immediately stopped and work on that particular vaccine candidate would be abandoned. Another important thing to consider is that “normal” testing of vaccines involve a limited, but “sufficient” number of volunteer recipients. At time of writing, nearly 3 billion individuals around the world are now fully vaccinated with two jabs of the most appropriate vaccine available to them, with around 7.15 billion doses administered altogether. This is a far greater number of vaccine recipients than any normal vaccine trial would need to pass the normal testing requirement. If these vaccines carried a risk of widespread and significant side effects, they would have surfaced by now.

Potential side effects are now well documented and while most are relatively minor, if reported early, even the most serious can be effectively treated – leaving recipients with few or no long term issues or concerns.  On the flip side, we are witnessing a significant shift in the number of unvaccinated people who require ICU support, and the long-term impacts of long COVID are yet to be determined.  Time will tell if those suffering long COVID will not only endure a poorer quality of life, but also a shorter life expectancy. The vast majority of COVID-19 patients in ICU today are unvaccinated and unfortunately many will subsequently die. The unvaccinated are more than 10 times more likely to die from COVID-19 (and twenty times more likely to pass it on) than those who have been vaccinated.  Sobering thoughts.

My family and I are all fully vaccinated and my elderly mum will soon be lining up for her booster as soon as she is due – followed closely by the rest of our family – not only to protect ourselves, but to reduce the risk to her and our other older and/or immunosuppressed family members and friends. 

Lorraine Quote Covid-19 Vaccine article

Advice that you receive through social media posts may not necessarily be the information you should be considering when you are weighing up your options in what may be one of the most important decisions for you, your friends and family, and ultimately – your community.

I mentioned earlier that we were incredibly fortunate to be living in Australia and NZ. The challenges we’re facing are first world problems when you compare our situation to countries who do not have the wealth or advanced health systems that we have access to. As COVID-19 continues to circulate in these poor and underprivileged communities, we will continue to see more disease, death and unfortunately the likelihood of new COVID-19 variants – perhaps becoming even more virulent than the current Delta strain. Former NZ Prime Minister Helen Clark has issued a strong statement on the matter.

COVID-19 Vaccines have a relatively short shelf life, and much of the supply we have here in Australia and NZ is starting to expire. It would be a great shame if these precious doses were wasted. So – if or when you do decide to book in and get your jab – please don’t skip the appointment. The last thing we need to see is vaccines being tossed down the sink.

Authored by:

COVID-19 Vaccines Blog Article Lorraine Author Image

Lorraine Pyefinch
Chief Relationship Officer at Best Practice Software

Real Time Prescription Monitoring in Your State – Are You Ready?

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Real Time Prescription Monitoring (RTPM) is a clinical tool providing real-time monitored medicines prescription information for prescribers and pharmacists to support safer clinical decision-making.

The use of a Real Time Prescription Monitoring tool is mandatory in some states and it is important to check your state-based legislation to ensure you are complying with any requirements.

Currently, RTPM is available for Victorian, South Australian, Queensland and some New South Wales users of Bp Premier and BpVIP.net, with other states expected to come on board within the next 12-18 months.

For our New South Wales sites, the rollout of this initiative is starting in the Hunter New England and Central Coast regions from Monday 25 October 2021 and being rolled out into further regions early into 2022.

To access RTPM in an enabled state, users must be registered for eRx or MediSecure and have the functionality enabled via the User Preferences window in wither BpVIP.net or Bp Premier.

For further information about configuring RTPM at your Practice, visit the Bp Premier or Bp VIP.net Knowledge Base, or check out the below 3-minute clip highlighting the easy to configure steps.

Authored by:

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Jessica White
Commercial and Customer Enablement Manager at Best Practice Software

Supercharge Your Practice’s Front Desk with AutoMed

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The current climate has turned front desk operations at general practices into one of the most challenging jobs with reception staff, indeed the front line workers, having to deal with increased pressures including and not limited to face-to-face appointments having to be switched to telehealth at a moment’s notice, doctors intermittently working offsite, dealing with outstanding accounts caused by the change in physical patient interaction and ever-changing appointment pre-screening – not to mention the upheaval of vaccine management with its influx of new patient registrations, consent forms, waiting lists for patients, changing criteria and late stock arrivals… and then there is still the  business as usual to be taken care of.

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During these times its more important than ever to have a comprehensive, reliable suite of tools working 24/7 in the background to not only alleviate pressures, but enhance operations for the benefit of staff retention, patient experience and the practice’s bottom line.  AutoMed has a comprehensive suite of tools to assist with these very real issues facing general practices.

AutoMed’s unique booking interface allows certain appointment types to be restricted to specific session colours in Bp Premier, making the allocation of either F2F or telehealth sessions extremely easy to manage. The ability to book multiple appointments per slot has also become immensely valuable for ensuring uniform patient arrival times for vaccination clinics and indeed the correct patient to vaccine vial ratio. The additional functionality that allows the booking of up to 4 additional resources alongside the practitioner makes easy work of automating the most complex of appointment setups. 6 patients per half hour, in the Doctor’s lilac session, along with the Practice Nurse, in the Treatment Room  = Done!

Ensuring patients return to the practice for their 2nd Covid-19 vaccination has been an additional stressor for clinics, with patients either calling the practice to confirm bookings, or shopping around. AutoMed’s Auto-Dose 2 booking alleviates the pressure for the front desk, assists with session planning and is more likely to secure the patient’s return.

Digitising New Patient Registration forms and customisable, appointment specific Consent Forms has never been more valuable, and AutoMed has this covered with fully interactive digital consent forms (This is not just for Covid-19 bookings. Try it for your skin checks, or anything else really). The customisable consent forms are presented at the time of online bookings or sent via a text message when booked by reception via the Caller ID function. The secure links can also be included in Appointment Reminders. And the real beauty lies within the fact that forms save directly back to the patient’s file in Bp Premier. The entire system is based on, and uses, the appointment types that you configure in Bp Premier. AutoMed handles the Bp Premier database as the single source of data – no data is replicated outside of your Bp Premier database.

Effective time allocation has become of the essence, and we acknowledged that more could be done to assist practices with a snapshot of their appointment book to assist with proactive, rather than reactive, management. The newly released Appointment Book Audit utility in AutoMed’s dashboard is life changing for reception staff and practice managers and will become the next must-have in general practice.

There are currently 6 utility functions available:

  • Generic – shows an overview of the appointment book for any future date range. This is typically used to get a quick overview of the status of the linked eCommerce billing, missing data, TH where patients didn’t attend in the past 12 months and so on.
  • Payment Report – shows all appointment types with linked eCommerce tokens, due to be processed.
  • New Patient Report – this is where things start to get exciting! This report contains a list of all new patients due to come in, with the status of their patient registration form as well as the ability to send a text with a link, requesting the patient to complete it. All demographic data is written back to BP in real-time; with the clinical data being stored in Correspondence In, ready for the doctor to review.
  • Consent Report – this report lists all appointments that have a consent form required, with a status if it was signed, quick access to the actual document with a print function, as well as the ability to send a link on the fly to patients.
  • Missing Key Data Report – struggling with your PiPQi score? This utility will change this quickly for your practice. All patients with missing data are listed with the ability to send a link to those patients requesting the data prior to the consult.
  • Telehealth Only – the final report lists all the telehealth appointments and includes the linked eCommerce token and last face-to-face visit date, enabling clinics to review the appointments some days before the actual consult, and also to create or resend AutoMed’s built-in Video Consult links.

To learn more, register and join AutoMed’s Webinar on Thursday 28 October at 4pm Sydney time, and work through the latest features designed to transform your practice’s front desk operations.

Stay Connected With Your Patients – Jayex Engage

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During these unprecedented times of disconnect, social distancing, and isolation, it has never been more important to remain connected online. As patients have settled into the new norm of telehealth appointments and fewer appearances at the clinic due to lockdowns and COVID regulations, it has been essential that Jayex offers our practices a platform that allows them to easily connect with patients. 

There are a variety of ways practices can educate, inform and notify patients. Either through SMS, email, a healthcare portal, in-person or a phone call. However, it is evident that although patients like to remain informed and educated, they do not wish to be spammed unnecessarily. Communicating and engaging with patients via clinical reminders, preventative health campaigns or practice newsletters is the perfect way to appropriately improve patient engagement and communication. 

Email and SMS communication methods have proved to be useful throughout the COVID vaccination roll-out. The Jayex Engage platform is used by our practices to send out bulk messages to all patients or to only a select few using filters. During the early stages of the vaccination roll-out, practices were able to send a targeted email campaign to those eligible patients at certain times, urging them to book their vaccination appointment with the practice. Thus, while some Australian states were in lockdown and patients were unable to visit the practice in-person, the practice could remain connected with their patients. 

A practice that heavily relied upon our Engage platform during the first stage of the vaccination roll-out said, that while the city was in lockdown and very few patients were visiting the practice in-person, they were able to effectively communicate with their patients whilst maintaining engagement. Using a targeted vaccination email campaign, the practice sent out emails to those who were eligible, which in-turn led to easily managed vaccination appointment bookings. Jayex Engage allowed for an effective method of communication between patient and practice that was still informative, educational and not spammy. 

A patient who was eligible for the vaccination during the first phase of the roll-out spoke about how their practice made the process super easy. The patient said that the practice regularly sent out health-related campaign emails, which the patient loved, as it was an informative and purposeful way of communicating. Being reminded via email of their vaccination eligibility through a targeted and filtered email campaign, the patient went on to book a vaccination appointment through the practice website. By simply being reminded about the COVID vaccination via email, the patient was able to make an appointment at the appropriate time and swiftly be vaccinated. A clear line of communication between practice and patient ensured the vaccine roll-out was organised, timely and kept their patients safe during the pandemic. 

Jayex Engage also provides practice’s with access to a variety of templates (not just COVID related) that are completely customisable. Templates include preventative health awareness like Dry July, October Breast Cancer awareness month, Movember health awareness and more. This allowed practices to ensure they continued to communicate with their patients all year round and throughout the pandemic. This platform and method of communication, aiding the staff of practices as opposed to creating more work for them. Many practices also loved being able to communicate important practice information to their patients like welcoming new doctors, COVID rules & regulations and health alerts. 

Throughout the pandemic, practices were able to educate and inform their patients by sending direct healthcare messages straight to the patients mobile or laptop. Jayex provided an ideal way to reach any or all of their patients through preventative and educational health campaigns encouraging patients to engage and book appointments. So, although everyone was either in lockdown, isolating, or stuck at home, practices and patients were able to remain connected digitally!

Find out more about how you can improve your patient engagement and communication with Jayex Engage here.