Electronic Prescriptions Have Landed in Bp Saffron!

bp blog electronic prescriptions landed

With the release of Saffron, it’s a good time to review the latest changes to Electronic Prescriptions in Bp Premier, and provide an update on the enablement materials that exist for both Jade and Saffron users. With all of the changes to Electronic Prescribing and Bp Premier over the last six months, the documentation team have been busy updating our materials to keep providing the latest information for our users in the Bp Premier Knowledge Base.

Enabling Electronic Prescribing

If you’re running Jade SP3 or Jade SP4 and you haven’t yet enabled Electronic Prescribing, the good news is that the January Data Update (available from our resources page) automatically activates Electronic Prescribing for Bp Premier. You don’t need to download a utility and check your postcode; all you need to do is run the January Data Update, if you haven’t already.

After you run the January update, you’ll still need to switch on Electronic Prescribing in Bp Premier Configuration for your Practice and the providers who will be using it, but this is simply a case of ticking a checkbox.

If you’ve already upgraded to Saffron, congratulations – you’ve already activated Electronic Prescribing!

Any configuration you had in Jade SP3 or SP4 will be carried through after your upgrade. Just resume issuing Electronic Prescriptions with no changes to what you’re doing now.

Finding Information About Electronic Prescribing

The documentation team has updated all of our existing materials and FAQs to do with Electronic Prescribing systems in Bp Premier, with new guidance on:

  • Supported states and territories
  • Can I send a token directly to pharmacies?
  • The prerequisites to successfully send a token
  • Cancelling sent and unsent tokens.

If you’re running version Jade, select Help > Online in Bp Premier and search for ‘Electronic Prescribing’ in the search bar. You’ll see our updated articles on Setting up electronic scripts, an industry FAQ, a Masterclass FAQ with Q&As from our users, and an introduction to Electronic Prescribing How-to for new starters.

If you’ve upgraded to Saffron, it’s even easier! Select Help > Online and click the Electronic Prescribing tile to open the new Saffron Series learning resources page for Electronic Prescribing in Saffron.

While you’re there, click on the other New Feature tiles to view learning resources for all of the other many, many features that come with Saffron, including Active Ingredient Prescribing.

What’s New for Electronic Prescriptions in Saffron?

Electronic Prescribing in Bp Premier has been updated in Saffron to seamlessly integrate with Bp Comms functionality, including sending tokens to the Best Health App. Electronic Prescriptions can now automatically generate a contact note that is recorded in a patient’s contact record with the Practice, with no additional action required by the provider.

In the same vein, more information about electronic script activity is recorded in the Bp Premier audit log, for troubleshooting and Practice peace of mind.

Just like Jade, the Saffron Knowledge Base features FAQs from both industry and our own users. Remember that our FAQs will be updated after the Saffron Series overview and FAQ sessions running the week starting January 18, in response to the questions that you, our users, are asking, so keep checking back if you have questions about Saffron and electronic prescribing.

At the bottom of every article in our Knowledge Base is a feedback box, so if you can’t find what you’re looking for, ask for it! Our documentation team checks feedback daily in the weeks following a release, and will action queries as fast as we can.

Welcome to Saffron!

Authored by:

Jay Rose - Bp Software

Jay Rose
Technical Writer at Best Practice Software

Australian Government Health Initiatives – A Look at the Past, Present and Future

Australian Government Health Initiatives Blog Post Image

Necessity is the mother of invention. It’s a phrase that many of us have likely heard before, and it’s one that, in many ways, encapsulates how agile the world has had to be in navigating the curveball that was the year 2020.

To combat the various challenges that have arrived with the COVID-19 pandemic, a range of Australian government health initiatives have been mobilised to adapt to the changing healthcare landscape.

Electronic Prescribing

Arguably the most impactful of 2020’s Australian government health initiatives was the fast-tracking of the ePrescribing rollout. With Practices closing to walk-in patients and reverting almost entirely to remote and telehealth consultations, Electronic Prescribing was the next logical step in minimising risk to both doctors and patients.

To assist with the introduction of ePrescribing in the Bp Premier Jade SP3 update, we produced a range of content helping Practices to get started with ePrescribing, our training team produced an Electronic Prescribing Masterclass, and we were proud to announce that Australia’s first ePrescription was processed through Bp Premier in May 2020.

While Electronic Prescribing has been an invaluable tool during the COVID-19 pandemic, the convenience it offers both doctors and patients is a benefit that will remain a constant well into the future.

Secure Messaging

A core part of healthcare in Australia today is the ongoing communication between healthcare providers. As is the nature of discussing medical issues, many of the communications are sensitive in nature, and are often transmitted over unsecure channels, or channels that experience incompatibilities – leading to the potential of communication breakdown, poor outcomes and an inefficient transfer of information.

The national Australian government health initiative on Secure Messaging was agreed upon in 2019 and began work in 2020 in an effort to improve the encrypted electronic exchange of patient healthcare information between healthcare providers. Typical use cases included discharge summaries, referrals and requests and the receipt of results.

Bp Software’s Commercial and Customer Enablement Manager Monica Reed wrote an article on the Secure Messaging initiative, outlining the importance of the functionality, how Best Practice Software got involved, and when Practices can expect Enhanced Secure Messaging to be more widely available.

Active Ingredient Prescribing

From February 2021, prescribing medication by its active ingredient will be a mandatory requirement. This was announced alongside the government’s 2018-2019 Electronic Prescribing budget, and means Practices will need to be on the latest software version to comply, Bp Premier Saffron and Bp VIP.net Ruby SP3.

The regulation mandates the inclusion of active ingredients on all PBS and RPBS prescriptions, with exceptions for handwritten prescriptions, paper-based medication charts in residential aged care settings. medicines with four or more active ingredients and non-medicinal items which don’t have active ingredients (e.g. dressings, nutritional products). Brand names will be able to be included in the prescription if deemed clinically necessary by the prescriber, but the active ingredient will still need to be listed first as per regulations.

To help prepare our customers for this change, we produced an introductory article, outlining what Active Ingredient Prescribing would mean for your Practice, as well as videos explaining the process and impact of the initiative on both patients and practitioners – helping to bring everyone up to speed before the regulations take effect in early 2021.

Real-Time Prescription Monitoring

Though technically introduced late in 2019, the National Real Time Prescription Monitoring (RTPM) initiative has seen significant progress in 2020.

The misuse of controlled substances and medication is an area of growing concern. The RTPM initiative is designed to help reduce the misuse of controlled substances, while ensuring that patients who genuinely need these medications can still get them. The RTPM initiative consists of a National Data Exchange (NDE), and regulatory systems managed by each individual state or territory.

States are now working to integrate their regulatory systems with the database – as we’ve seen successfully occur with Victoria’s SafeScripts platform, and the soon to be delivered ScriptCheckSA in South Australia.

Read more about the Real Time Prescription Monitoring initiative here.

National Cancer Screening Register

The last, but certainly not least among 2020’s important initiatives was the National Cancer Screening Register (NCSR), and this integration is available in Bp Premier with our latest Saffron release.

The NCSR is a Department of Health initiative developed to encourage and support bowel cancer and cervical cancer screening. The register has been developed by Telstra Health in partnership with state and territory governments. We’ve partnered with Telstra Health and government departments to integrate the NCSR with Bp Premier to enable simple electronic capture of cancer related health information.

The NCSR provides a range of significant benefits to patients – such as screening reminders and having their doctor make better informed decision with access to their screening history, but it benefits practitioners as well through the ability to order screening test kits, receiving reminders for patients who are overdue for a screening or follow-up, and manage their patients’ program participation.

All of this is now accessible through Bp Premier’s Saffron release, and you can read an article on the National Cancer Screening Register initiative here.

Australian Government Health Initiatives in 2021

Electronic Prescription Token Solution to Integrate with Medisecure

In supporting 2020’s ePrescribing rollout, and the initial introduction of an electronic prescribing token solution integrated with the eRx prescription exchange service, Bp Software will introduce an electronic prescribing token solution integrated with the Medisecure prescription exchange service in Saffron SP1.

We’ve listened to the feedback and understood that a choice of prescription exchange is important to our GP users, so we are working together with Medisecure to deliver this in our next release.

Supporting the Active Script List

In 2021 we’ll be working with the relevant government bodies to extend Bp Premier’s Electronic Prescribing functionality to support the Active Script List. Currently, when a patient seeks to fill a prescription electronically, they do so via a token on their electronic device. A token that is lost, misplaced or accidentally deleted needs to be resent to the patient by the Practice.

Under the Active Script List initiative, pharmacists will be able to verify a patient’s identity and view their valid electronic prescriptions, then safely dispense the necessary medications.

The primary goal of the Active Script List is to overcome the issue of lost tokens, and assist medication management and adherence, especially for patients who are on a schedule of multiple medications.

Medicare Web Services

The Medicare Client Adaptor is how providers currently connect to Medicare Online Claiming, however the technology is quickly becoming dated and providers are being encouraged to transition to the new method of connection, called Web Services. From the 13th of March in 2022, the Medicare Client Adaptor will be retired and no longer accessible.

Currently, Bp Premier and Bp VIP.net connect to Services Australia using the Medicare Client Adaptor. However, due to the eventual transition over to Web Services, there is significant work being undertaken to update Bp Premier and Bp VIP.net to utilise this newer method of authentication and connection.

You can read more about Medicare Web Services here.

COVID-19 Vaccine Reporting Initiatives

Currently in Australia, the recording of vaccinations is encouraged, but not mandatory. A bill currently moving through Australian Parliament will compel GPs and other vaccine providers to report all newly administered vaccines to the Australian Immunisation Register. The aim of the bill is to support the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, and the ongoing administration of the National Immunisation Program.

In preparation of the national rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, Bp Premier’s latest Saffron release provides the functionality to record a patient’s vaccine serial number.

Bp Software is committed and actively participating in government and industry information sessions to ensure that, as we learn more about the mandatory reporting requirements and anticipated upload of vaccine data to the Australian Immunisation Register, we can ensure that our products will comply with user needs.

2020 presented the world, and the healthcare industry in particular, with many unique challenges. While many of the Australian government health initiatives outlined above already had wheels in motion, the fast tracking and prioritising of their rollouts have helped the healthcare industry to remain adaptive to a rapidly shifting landscape.

Important initiatives continue to be the focus in 2021, and will no doubt help to strengthen the Australian healthcare industry – offering innumerable benefits for providers, practitioners and patients alike.

Cybersecurity Best Practices – Keeping Your Data and Systems Safe

Cybersecurity | Password protection

Cybersecurity is the practice of defending servers, computers, mobile devices, networks, and data from malicious attacks. Cyber threats continue to evolve at a fast pace, with a rising number of data breaches each year. In fact, according to the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s Annual Cyber Threat Report from 2020, between the 1st of July 2019 and 30th of June 2020, the ACSC responded to approximately 164 cybercrime reports per day. That’s roughly one every 10 minutes.

Historically, medical Practices and public entities experience the most breaches. These sectors are more appealing to hackers because they regularly collect lots of personal information, financial records and medical data.

Following simple but effective cybersecurity best practices can ensure your data is safe from unauthorised access.

Different Types of Cybersecurity Threats

There are a wide range of methods that hackers can use to illegitimately gain access to your Practice’s information. Listed below are some of the more common methods which you may have heard of.

  • Ransomware – Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to hold files or data ‘hostage’. Once a Practice’s computer system has been compromised, patient files are inaccessible until a ransom is paid. Paying the ransom does not guarantee that the data will be recovered.
  • Phishing – This is the practice of sending fraudulent emails that resemble emails from reputable sources. Phishing attacks often target individuals with emails that look like they’re from your bank or financial institution. The aim is to steal sensitive data like credit card numbers or account login information. It is the most common type of cyber-attack.
  • Social Engineering – Social engineering is a tactic that hackers use to trick you into thinking you’re speaking to a representative from a legitimate organisation, and then getting you to reveal sensitive information. Social engineering is often combined with the methods listed above to make you more likely to click on a link or hand over sensitive data.

IT Security Tips for Practices

The first thing you can do is establish a security culture within your Practice.

The weakest link in any computer system is the user. Protecting patient data through good security practices should be second nature, similar to the Practice’s sanitary measures. Ensuring that your staff are familiar with your cybersecurity measures and how to identify a cyber threat makes your Practice more secure.

Keep Your Practice Software Updated

Taking your entire system offline to perform software updates is a daunting prospect.

However, neglecting to get the latest version of your software leaves devices significantly more vulnerable to attack. Furthermore, any security patches that come with an update will be unavailable to you. Hackers will take advantage of complacency and can remain undetected in an out-of-date system far easier than in systems with the latest software updates.

Maintain Secure Access to Patient Data

You may have seen media reports of victims whose private information was stolen by hackers. Failing to keep your patient data secure can be catastrophic. Hackers can use data from your patient records to commit identity theft and access patient bank accounts.

It is important to control access to patient records and only allow authorised personnel to have access to their details. Have a system in place to audit your system, and regularly verify who accessed which patient records, and when. It’s also important to promptly remove system access from staff who have resigned, or have been terminated.

Computer System Maintenance

Over time, operating systems tends to accumulate and catalogue old information and redundant data unless regular maintenance is performed. Just as your medical supplies must be monitored for expiration dates, material that is out of date on a computer system must be discarded or archived.

Some things you can do to ensure you’re following cybersecurity best practices with regards to computer maintenance are:

  • Ensuring user accounts for former employees are disabled.
  • Computers and other storage devices that have had data stored on them are sanitized before disposal.
  • Old data files are archived for storage, or cleaned off the system if not needed, subject to data retention requirements.
  • Software that is no longer required is removed from the computer, this includes trial software and any outdated versions of software.

Installation and Updating of Anti-Virus Software

A common way that hackers can access a computer system in a medical Practice is through viruses or malicious software (malware). In addition, computers can become infected by seemingly innocent sources such as email links, USB drives, and web browser downloads. It is important to use a product that provides continuously updated protection, and ensure your staff know how to recognise when your anti-virus has detected something suspicious.

Controlling Access to Patient Information

Familiarise yourself with role-based access permissions, where a staff member’s role within your Practice (e.g., doctor, practice manager, nurse) determines what information they have access to. Care must be taken to assign staff to the correct role within your Practice. Having well structured role-based permissions ensures that your staff can only access what they’re supposed to, which ultimately improves your Practice’s IT security.

Create Strong Passwords and Change Them Regularly

Passwords are often the first line of defense against unauthorised access to your Practice’s computer systems. Although strong passwords will not prevent attackers from trying to gain access to your network, it can slow them down and even discourage them altogether.

Using easy-to-guess passwords or sharing passwords between applications and logins significantly increases your Practice’s risk and vulnerability. Using the same password for multiple logins presents an incredibly high risk. If a hacker gains access to one account, they gain access to all of them. This can have a devastating flow on effect, not just for your Practice, but your staff’s personal lives as well.

Your staff should be aware that legitimate organisations will never ask for their password over email or messaging service. For maximum password security, employ the use of a reputable password storage system.

Strong passwords are ones that are not easily guessed. Hackers will use automated methods to try to guess a password, and so it is important to choose a password that does not have characteristics that could make it vulnerable.

Strong passwords should not include:

  • Words found in the dictionary.
  • Personal information such as birth date, your name, or pets’ names.

Some examples of strong password characteristics:

  • At least eight characters in length.
  • A combination of upper case and lower-case letters, one number, and at least one special character, such as a punctuation mark.

For many Practices, consistently reviewing and updating IT security measures can sometimes feel a little tedious. However, training your Practice in strong IT security habits is essential when it comes to protecting sensitive patient data.

While it may not be practical to enact all of the above cybersecurity best practices all at once, each of them can be implemented incrementally, and each of them will secure your Practice’s systems as you institute them.

Authored by:

cybersecurity best practices michael porter avatar

Michael Porter
Analyst & Developer at Best Practice Software

Customising Bp Allied – Tailoring a Solution for Your Practice

customising bp allied blog image

The allied health industry employs more than 195,000 people within Australia who represent more than a quarter of the health industry.  With such a diverse workforce providing health services via a range of different outlets, including the private sector, government, aged care and educational institutions; it stands to reason that each individual, business or organisation seeking a Practice management software solution will have varying needs and requirements.

As our Support Specialist, Deepika Mukkapati has previously written about in part 1 and part 2 of her blog posts, Bp Allied already provides our customers with “out of the box” solutions for a range of allied health professionals, but what happens when a business has workflows and requirements that are a little different to the standard needs of most businesses? That’s when customising Bp Allied presents itself as an invaluable benefit.

There are a few different options out there for businesses with unique requirements:

  1. Build Bespoke Software – while this might be appealing for some businesses, the cost can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars to build unique software to explicitly suit your business. This option is ruled out for most, simply due to the prohibitive cost.
  2. Square Peg into a Round Hole – make do with an off-the-shelf product. Unfortunately, for most businesses this option causes extra workload, with tasks requiring manual and paper intervention to maintain workflows.  Eventually, the administrative burden this solution causes outweighs the low product cost.
  3. Bp Allied Customisation – with the ability to create your own reportable fields within the Client Details record, you have the power to build and/or replicate workflows to record the information you need to record, how you want to record it. Custom reports can also be created to extract any custom data you have created within Bp Allied.

Being an account specialist for Bp Allied, I regularly engage with clients and guide them on how best to go about the process of customising Bp Allied.  Let’s take an in-depth look at what can be achieved with Bp Allied.

Firstly, customising the Bp Allied client record can be achieved by the end user to ensure you can maintain low setup costs.  While we do offer customisation of Bp Allied as a fee for service, we also provide you with detailed help guides, videos and guidance during deployment so you are empowered with the knowledge to perform the task in house.

Any area within the client record can be edited; fields can be renamed, added and removed.  A selection of date, numeric, tickbox and text fields are available for use which provides you with the flexibility to create a record that is truly bespoke to your business.

Recently I have worked with different organisations to assist with providing solutions to meet their requirements.  Below are some examples of customisation, some are quick and easy “hacks” that have made a huge difference, while Case 3 is a complete overhaul of end to end work flow.

Case 1 – a psychology clinic within a university required the ability for a supervisor to “sign off” on client notes written by students. 

A simple consultation tickbox and accompanying text field was added to the top of the “Consultation” area of Bp Allied.

customise bp allied case 1

A custom report was then written for the university to report on which notes have been approved and to follow up on the notes that had yet to be signed off.

Case 2 – a health clinic working within a school setting had the need to record incidents within Bp Allied.

Using a range of consultation tickboxes and text fields, a form was created for the information to be recorded. 

customise bp allied case 2

A letter template was then created to pull the information from the record and for this information to be easily distributed by email to other staff, the student’s family and GP.

customise bp allied case 2 pic 2

Case 3 – a group of physiotherapists and exercise physiologists within a football club had specific reporting needs to ensure injury management was maintained. 

This was a significant amount of customisation that required an end-to-end overhaul of existing workflows, customisation of the client record as well as custom reports, however, all of this was achieved without any programmatic changes to Bp Allied.

The result was a custom report that could be pulled from Bp Allied, exported as .xlsx or .csv format and seamlessly uploaded to the injury management portal.

customise bp allied case 3

We recently chatted to Bloomhill Cancer Care who performed a significant amount of customisation to Bp Allied, you can read more about their success story here.

I hope this article has sparked some ideas for how customising Bp Allied might work for you.  If you’d like to learn more about customisation or any other areas of Bp Allied please feel free to contact our sales team at sales@bpsoftware.net, or call us on 1300 40 1111 in Australia, or 0800 40 1111 from New Zealand.

Authored by:

Mel dobell avatar

Melissa Dobell
Bp Allied Account Specialist at Best Practice Software

ScriptCheckSA – Real Time Prescription Monitoring Coming March 2021

blog image scriptchecksa

If you were following our blog in the earlier months of 2020, you may recall an article we published on SafeScript, the Victorian government’s real time prescription monitoring solution. The South Australian government has now followed suit with the implementation of ScriptCheckSA, scheduled to be implemented in late March 2021.

ScriptCheckSA is South Australia’s real time prescription monitoring computer system and provides prescribers and pharmacists with real-time information about a patient’s use of monitored and controlled drugs, which is an invaluable resource if they are considering prescribing or dispensing these drugs. Having access to this kind of information ultimately leads to safer clinical decisions.

Prescription drug dependence, misuse and diversion are an increasing concern in Australia. A real time monitoring system such as ScriptCheckSA helps to alleviate misuse, while still ensuring that patients who genuinely require access to these medications can still obtain them.

How Will ScriptCheckSA Impact Prescribers?

ScriptCheckSA is not intended to prevent doctors or pharmacists from prescribing or dispensing monitored or controlled drugs – whether it is appropriate to prescribe a particular medication remains the clinical decision of the treating prescriber or pharmacist.

For our South Australian Practices, the implementation of ScriptCheckSA will allow you to safely prescribe and dispense high-risk medication, and transmit that information in real time to a centralised database, which can then be accessed by other doctors and pharmacists in subsequent consultations. This provides access to valuable information for prescribers and dispensers to facilitate the early identification, treatment and support for patients who may be starting to show signs of drug dependence.

What Can You Do To Prepare Now?

In preparation for ScriptCheckSA, a legislative change was made to the Controlled Substances (Poisons) Regulations 2011, including mandatory Drugs of Dependency reporting to the Department of Health SA from 1st November 2020. You can read more about this here

If your Patient Management System has integration with a Prescription Exchange service and you have this enabled the reporting will be done automatically.

For Bp Premier Practices:

  • Ensure that you upgrade to Bp Premier Saffron edition when it is released.
  • Ensure that your Practice has activated either eRx or Medisecure as a prescription exchange service. For more information on this please refer to our Knowledge Base, which can be accessed in Bp Premier by selecting Help > Online, and searching for either eRx or Medisecure.
  • View our Real-Time Prescription Monitoring setup guide available on our Knowledge Base, which can be accessed in Bp Premier by selecting Help > Online, and searching for real time prescription monitoring.

For Bp VIP.net Practices:

  • Ensure that you are using the latest release of Bp VIP.net.
  • Ensure the eRx prescription exchange service is activated. For more information on this, please refer to our Knowledge Base by selecting Help > Online from within Bp VIP.net.

Where Can You Find More Information?

A list of frequently asked questions is available on the SAHealth website here. If you have a specific enquiry pertaining to the rollout and implementation of ScriptCheckSA, get in contact here.

Videos: Active Ingredient Prescribing for Doctors and Patients

Active Ingredient Prescribing for Doctors and Patients

Prescribing medication by its active ingredient will become mandatory from February 2021. This change is part of the government’s 2018-2019 Electronic Prescribing Budget initiative that was legislated in 2019 under the National Health (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Amendment (Active Ingredient Prescribing) Regulations 2019. The aim is to improve patient understanding of the medications they take in addition to promoting the uptake of generic and biosimilar medicines to support a long term viable and sustainable market for these medications in Australia. Watch the videos below to better understand Active Ingredient Prescribing for Doctors and patients.

Active Ingredient Prescribing for Doctors

Active Ingredient Prescribing for Patients

2020 Mental Health | COVID-19 – A Year In Review

Mental Health 2020 Blog Article Image

Our mental health is something that we’re all aware of, but far too often we don’t do enough to look after it. Mental health during COVID-19 has been something that deserves far more attention than many of us have given it.

If someone asked you to list five words that described how you feel about the year 2020, what would you say? How different would they be, compared to describing your feelings about previous years? Maybe you cannot settle on five words, you keep swapping out one for another as you go through the extent of what has occurred this year.

Twelve months ago, Australia was in the midst of fighting the most extensive bushfires in recent times, colloquially known as Black Summer. The expanse of devastation and death of one billion wildlife animals generated worldwide support and acknowledgement. Australians and International supporters rallied to raise money to assist those affected by the bushfires and frontline firefighters were the heroes of our nation.  The resilient Australian spirit kicked in and individuals, families and communities faced the mammoth task of rebuilding and hoping to return to a normal life. Towards the end of the bushfires, storms and flooding affected some parts of NSW, which was a relief for those suffering from some of the still-burning fires, but introduced more stress for communities that were already exhausted by the bushfire crisis.

Within a month of the flooding and weeks of the final fires being extinguished, the World Health Organisation declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, and Australia began shutdown measures. Australians began living under strict lockdown rules and restrictions that have not been experienced in more than a century.  International travel to and from Australia was limited with many people still trapped overseas. People were afraid of being locked in their homes without food and supplies so supermarket shelves were stripped bare due to panic-buying.  Non-essential services were closed which led to economic and social stress; this saw the cessation of all forms of entertainment, sport, pubs, cinemas, and houses of worship.

Travel within Australia was restricted by internal domestic border controls which caused distress and further strain on mental health during COVID-19 for people separated from their family and friends. Businesses were encouraged to work remotely where possible, and online commerce escalated. Schools were closed and all students were introduced to eLearning which suited some but caused many students and families additional stress. Frontline health care workers became the new heroes of our nation, while acknowledging the efforts of everyone involved in essential services such as emergency personnel, teachers, food supply chain personnel, and cleaning services.

Healthcare organisations and aged care residences restricted entry to visitors, so much so that children could not visit patients, family could not visit their elderly family and women who had birthed were not allowed visitors, including the other parent of the newborn. Not only did these restrictions heighten the strain on mental health already being felt by those affected, but people were also afraid to go to healthcare organisations, in case they became infected themselves.

The Psychological Consequences on Mental Health during COVID-19

The following emotions and numerous others may be experienced by people during the COVID19 outbreak: anger, annoyance, anxiety, confusion, depression, distress, distrust, fear, frustration, helplessness, hopelessness, isolation, loneliness, panic, sadness, uncertainty, and worry.

  • People:
    • In affected communities following the Black Summer bushfires were in a heightened state of anxiety and struggled with additional uncertainty, and were prone to more stresses on mental health during COVID-19.
    • Are afraid of infection, either getting themselves sick or infecting others, especially the elderly and vulnerable.
    • Worry about not having enough information, or being given the wrong information, therefore high quality, factual information should be accessed from a trusted source.
    • Experience a variety of stressors, such as financial stress from losing or having reduced employment or retirees’ superannuation funds decreasing; limited social contact leads to feeling isolated, lonely, and not socially connected.
    • Who are isolated or quarantined, including the elderly and vulnerable population, feel combinations of any of the emotions, particularly depressed, confusion, frustration, anger, boredom, lonely and become worried about having inadequate supplies.
    • Those with pre-existing anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress or health anxiety are at risk of experiencing higher anxiety levels and poorer mental health during COVID19, and may require additional psychological support during this time.
  • Health care workers have experienced increased anxiety and can feel overwhelmed due to possible direct contact with affected patients, lack of personal protective equipment, increased workload, and changing their care delivery from in-person to telehealth.
  • Students impacted by changing to and from online learning, as well as individuals working remotely from home can experience distress, anxiety, frustration, uncertainty, confusion, worry and become depressed.
  • Families have faced numerous challenges including working remotely while supervising children and students, being geographically separated, or denied contact with elderly family members. Family events have been impacted such as weddings being postponed and being unable to attend funerals. Family and domestic violence, and child abuse has escalated due to increased household tension, cabin fever, isolation, increased alcohol consumption, and stress. The pandemic is another barrier for people who are exiting abusive relationships, where women and children are forced to remain in violent and unsafe homes.

Think back to those five feelings of 2020 that you identified earlier, and which would you swap out regarding your hopes of 2021? Have you replaced distress with acceptance; fear with determination; isolation with feeling connected; fear with hope; or are you stuck and not optimistic about the future?

Looking After Yourself and Coping With the Rest of 2020

1. Look after yourself physically and mentally
After a year of challenges and uncertainty as to when the pandemic will end, current life in Australia is the new normal. At any time, restrictions and health directions may be lifted or imposed so here are some practical things that you can do to help your mood and reduce stress levels. You’ll cope better if you place importance on getting quality sleep, eating healthy, exercising daily, attending to physical health issues, having regular periods of relaxation, ensuring regular self-care and reducing alcohol consumption.

2. Live in the present
The uncertainty of the future and concerns whether life will return to pre-COVID normal, can cause varying levels of distress. Focusing on living in the present and taking each day as it comes will reduce the distress about the future and increase appreciation for current activities.

A simple mindfulness exercise is to notice what you are experiencing right now, whether it is doing a task or doing nothing, and using all of your five senses: sound, sight, touch, taste, and smell.

Take a few slow breaths and ask yourself:

What can I hear? (for example, clock on the wall, car going by, music in the next room, my breath)

What can I see? (for example, this table, that sign, that person walking by)

What can I feel? (for example, the chair under me, the floor under my feet, my phone in my pocket)

What can I smell? (for example, flowers in the room, air freshener, the soap on my hands)

What can I taste? (for example, my tea, a cracker, a grape, nothing)

Think of these answers to yourself slowly, one sense at a time and you will be mindfully present.

3. Allow yourself to grieve for what has been lost or what you wish you had
Border closures, restrictions on gatherings and physical distancing requirements mean a lack of freedoms that we took for granted pre-COVID. For many, this means separation from family and friends, an inability to travel, being unable to celebrate events how you would like, and feel lonely, isolated and disconnected.  It is normal to feel sad during this time as grieving for the loss of something or someone confirms that it, or they, are important to you.

4. Be flexible and creative
This year the Christmas and holiday period will not be the same as previous years due to COVID restrictions. At any time, restrictions and new health directions are enacted so expectations need to be flexible, which may be difficult to accept. Identify what is the most significant aspect of this time or event and find a way to maintain it. This might require some creative problem-solving such as moving an event outside, have multiple smaller gatherings or include a digital option.

Everyone has been affected by the challenges of 2020, either directly or indirectly, so people need to acknowledge that everyone is feeling a degree of stress. It is important to not expect too much and be kind to yourself, also, think about what you value in life. Be kind and tolerant of others as you do not know how they have been affected by this year. If you maintain good physical and mental health during COVID-19, and accept the future for what is, the resilient Australian spirit will cope with adversity.

If at any point you feel overwhelmed and unable to cope, please contact Lifeline (13 11 14), Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636), your local GP, or a mental health professional for support and assistance.

Authored by:

Gina Clement Avatar Picture

Gina Clement (MProfPsych, MMid, BNsgInform, DipHlthSc(Nsg)
Provisional Psychologist and Product Manager at Best Practice Software

SQL Server Express and You – Planning a Smooth Transition to Full SQL

SQL and You Blog Image

Recently, our Support team received a number of calls relating to an issue with Bp Premier’s SQL Server Express component, which can result in a very large, unexpected expense for Practices. As such, we felt it was important to flag this scenario with our customers.

Experiencing either performance issues, warning messages about low diskspace or a notification from Microsoft about the need to upgrade their SQL Server Express licence, several Practices contacted our Support team to seek an explanation and guidance on how to resolve the issue. Upon further investigation, we found that some Practices have outgrown their free SQL Server Express licence that comes packaged with your Bp Premier installation, requiring an upgrade to Microsoft’s SQL Server Standard Edition or even their Enterprise edition. Depending on the Practice’s size and licensing requirements, this can be anywhere from $4,000 to $14,000.

To find out how you can reduce the risk of being stuck with a large, unexpected and unwelcome bill – read on.

SQL Server Express edition, included with your Bp Premier installation, has a limit of 10GB of storage for a single database. For Practices in this situation, an upgrade to SQL Standard edition will allow for your patient database to exceed the 10GB limit, and allow for the the use of 4 sockets / 24 cores from 1 socket / 4 cores and an increased Buffer Pool Memory from 1410MB to 128GB.  In simple terms, SQL Standard edition will allow you to utilise far more of your server’s processing power.

However, upgrading from SQL Server Express is not as simple as flicking a switch, there are considerations you will need to make to ensure you are prepared for a smooth transition.

Given the costs involved with the move to SQL Server Standard Edition (or “Full SQL), a proper succession plan is vital to the smooth operation and transition of your systems.  The key part of this is to know your current limitations and track your Practice’s growth against these to identify your target time frame.

The key metrics to be aware of that effect Bp Premier when used with SQL Express are:

  • 1GB maximum memory used by the SQL Server Database Engine
  • The maximum size of each relational database is 10GB (this refers to the BPSPatients database)
  • The limit on the buffer cache for a single SQL instance is 1MB of RAM
  • The relational database engine is restricted to the lesser of 1 socket or 4 cores

Please note these limitations are governed by Microsoft for this free edition of SQL Server.  As this version suits the needs of a vast majority of sites Best Practice chooses to ship and deploy this for your Practice to assist in the reduction of costs.

The following actions will help you determine if you have a need to upgrade to “Full SQL”:

Monitoring and tracking of performance:

You may want to speak with your IT regarding monitoring your Express instance during your busy periods, to track your performance.

Database size:

By monitoring your back-up sizes for the “BPSPatients” file, you can plot out your Practice’s growth over a period of time and work out an average growth rate, as well as when you would expect to hit your limitations.

When planning for an upgrade to “Full SQL” due to file size growth, you should ensure that you allow enough time before you reach the file size restriction to avoid any downtime for your Practice. As a rule of thumb, you should aim to upgrade with at least 20% of your file size restriction remaining.  It would be recommended to seek advice on costs for “Full SQL” and allow for this in your budget so that funds may be available should you reach this limitation.

Should you need to upgrade your SQL Server version or edition, you can refer to the relevant online knowledge base article titled Upgrade SQL Server. For more information on Microsoft’s SQL Server pricing, visit their product page.

Authored by:

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Scott Everist
Support Leader at Best Practice Software

My Health Record for Specialists: A Co-designed Approach With ADHA

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Best Practice Software is in the final phases of getting ready to release My Health Record functionality for specialists through Bp VIP.net – a software solution that serves the needs of medical specialists such as ophthalmologists and cardiologists.

During 2019, the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA) invited leading software vendors for specialists to co-produce design improvements to their experience with My Health Record (MHR).  Bp VIP.net was accepted as a software vendor to participate in joint workshops organised by the ADHA to improve MHR functionality and overall usability for all specialists in Australia.

The end-result of the collaboration is a dedicated Bp VIP.net software release for My Health Record functionality, due for public release in early 2021.

The media release published by the ADHA is available here.

From Understanding Specialist Workflows to Improving User Experience and Patient Discovery

One of the key drivers behind the My Health Record for specialists initiative, and for software vendors to participate in joint workshops, was to increase a joint understanding of specialist needs. The goal of the joint understanding is to improve overall My Health Record functionality with software vendors and to avoid disrupting specialist and Practice workflows by providing a better user experience.

Taking this approach, Best Practice Software wanted to streamline all integration points in Bp VIP.net to My Health Record to ensure ease of access for viewing, accessing and downloading patient records. With the design improvements, we also wanted to ensure the same streamlined approach for uploading clinical documents back to My Health Record. This will ultimately lead to improving the overall shared electronic patient record in Australia and bettering the care of patients.

One of the long-term goals for the ADHA is to continue to increase the overall uptake of My Health Record amongst medical specialists. As the uptake for MHR has been significant over the years through our Best Practice GP software, Bp Premier, we also needed to ensure an integrated design approach for specialists. This ultimately leads to offering a great user experience to all users of Bp VIP.net software. Access to electronic patient records through MHR has been streamlined in all relevant specialist’s features to blend into existing Practice workflows. The release provides access to new MHR functionality while minimising disruption to Practices and increasing ease of access and uploads to MHR.

Patient discovery is another crucial aspect for a successful MHR user experience. One of the outcomes of the My Health Record design process, has led to helping specialists identify whether a patient has a MHR and whether they are actively participating in the program. Bp VIP.net users can easily identify patient participation through improved MHR status updates in the software.

When is This Becoming Available for Specialists?

Bp VIP.net is in the final stages of development and are getting ready for general release in the beginning of 2021, to offer specialists an integrated and seamless experience with My Health Record.

Offering a great user experience has been at the heart of the design process, while ensuring a safe and secure approach to managing patient privacy and consent to MHR. Improved healthcare outcomes have already been proven by the uptake of MHR and the improved functionality for specialists will hopefully keep us moving in the right direction with the technology available to all of us today for managing a shared health record.

Authored by:

Henry Vesander Blog Author Image

Henry Vesander
Product Management Leader at Best Practice Software


Best Practice Software Community Partnership – Matthew Talbot Primary Health Clinic

Community Partnership Matthew Talbot Collage

If you are an avid reader of our website blog, or are subscribed to our Evolution newsletter, you would remember that back in August we shone a light on a community partnership that Best Practice Software is engaged in with the Yotkom Medical Centre in Uganda.

Today we’re doing something similar – looking at one of the Best Practice Software community partners who is doing incredible work in and around their community, and this one is a little closer to home.

For the past eleven years, Best Practice Software has been involved in an ongoing community partnership with the Matthew Talbot Primary Health Clinic and hostel, located in Woolloomooloo, Sydney. The Matthew Talbot Primary Health Clinic is a Practice that exists to support homeless men in and around the Woolloomooloo locality. For many years, the area has been a hotspot for homeless activity, with around 100 men living in the available crisis accommodation. The clinic’s patients sleep rough or reside locally in unstable, unreliable accommodation.

The clinic is a non-government organisation run by the St Vincent de Paul Society. Their staff consists of their nursing team, a general practitioner, two psychiatrists, an optometrist, and a roster of visiting clinicians and allied health professionals. Nurse Manager, Julie Smith, stresses the importance of the work that the clinic performs.

“The homeless are not served well by mainstream healthcare services. Typically, they die 25 years before an average Australian. They experience higher rates of mental illness, metabolic disease, chronic illness, and cancer. Accessing healthcare is difficult. We provide advocacy and break down those barriers to receiving a service wherever we can.”

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Nurse Manager Julie Smith with Bill, one of the clinic’s beloved patients.

The clinic offers several essential and preventive health services including specialist clinics in smoking cessation, metabolic health, Hepatitis C, and chronic disease management. A point of pride for the clinic is their work in assisting patients with their NDIS funding applications, of which they have been involved in nearly 100. Of these 100, not a single application has been knocked back, meaning that once housed, the patients are able to access lifelong help and support, which in-turn sustains their tenancies and is instrumental in preventing their relapse into homelessness. For these people, these successful applications mean that their homelessness is effectively ended.

Julie explains that the core ethos behind the Matthew Talbot Primary Healthy Clinic is to help those who have trouble helping themselves.

“Supporting and advocating on behalf of people who have difficulty assisting themselves is an important way that we can create and sustain safer and healthier communities. In our hostel, we have a substantial Case Management team who provide comprehensive social welfare services. We partner with them every day and we are instrumental in providing the treating doctors with reports and supportive letters that are crucial elements in obtaining the right benefits or access to housing services.”

To further assist those who are impacted by homelessness, in addition to the medical support and advocacy for housing, the Matthew Talbot Primary Health Clinic also has an onsite learning centre. The centre welcomes those struggling with homelessness, and the wider community.

“It’s a place where you can learn, gain qualifications, meet people, make new friends and obtain assistance.”

The centre’s COMPEER program, which is an initiative backed by Vinnies, is a program that matches community members with people who have a mental illness, but who would benefit from having regular friendships within the community. The centre also provides supportive services for refugees and homeless families, and they run programs which keep homeless children connected to education, which is something that many displaced children struggle with.

While the clinic does offer medical support services, the entire initiative is so much more, aiding with a holistic approach to health, both for individuals and the wider community. Health is very much connected to all aspects of homelessness and being able to assist those in need by considering all aspects of where they may be struggling is crucial to long-term success.

As part of the community partnership agreement, Best Practice Software proudly provides the Matthew Talbot Primary Health Clinic with significantly discounted Bp Premier licences, which benefits the clinic’s staff, but more importantly, allows the clinic to provide, in many cases, lifesaving care and assistance to its patients and the wider community.

Here at Best Practice Software, we are proud to be an integral part of the work that all our customers are undertaking. Though it is especially important that we take steps to assist those who are helping the most vulnerable in our communities, Best Practice Software is particularly proud to have maintained such an important and valuable community partnership with the Matthew Talbot Primary Health Clinic and look forward to continued partnership.

To find out more about the Matthew Talbot Primary Health Clinic, visit their section of the St Vincent de Paul website.

If you are involved with a charitable or non-profit cause, you believe may qualify for Best Practice Software’s Community Partnership program, and can get in touch with us here.