The Dos and Don’ts of Marketing Your Practice

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Your practice is up and running. Your admin staff are well trained, you have the top clinicians in the area, and your appointment book is ready to be filled. However, if no one knows about your practice, it might as well not even exist. That’s where marketing comes into play. Marketing your practice involves getting the word out about your practice to attract patients and keep them coming back.

The Australia Medical Association estimates there are around 7,000 GP clinics in Australia. How will you ensure your practice stands out amongst the crowd?

When devising your practice’s marketing strategy, you might ask yourself plenty of questions, like: do I need a website? Which demographic should I be targeting? How much should I spend on advertising? Where should I be advertising?

While making these decisions, it’s important to understand the dos and don’ts of marketing your practice. This article is here to help you determine which marketing channels may be the right fit for your practice and get you thinking about advertising regulations that may impact your strategy.

Which Advertising Channels Should You Choose?

Before considering which advertising channels to invest in, it’s important to establish your marketing objectives and budget to achieve those goals. A great place to start is understanding how many patients you need to hit your goals and the amount you’re willing to spend to acquire a patient.

Regardless of your budget’s size, it’s important to figure out what you’re comfortable spending before planning your advertising channels.

Online Channels

You can use countless channels and strategies to market your practice, and a website is the perfect place to start. In an increasingly digital world, you should first build a website for your practice, which will be the hub for your marketing efforts. This is where potential patients will come to learn more about your practice and can likely be their first impression. The simpler your website is, the better! Building a website might sound overwhelming, but plenty of website providers such as Wix, SquareSpace, and WordPress make setting up a site with ready-made templates easy. Make sure it’s mobile-friendly and easy to navigate. A website is also the backbone of your online marketing; it’s the destination for online ads, social media links, search engine optimisation, and google my business listings. To learn more about building an online presence, check out our recent article.

Offline Channels

Despite the prominence of online marketing, offline advertising, such as billboards, street signs, retail signage, and radio, can still play a role in your marketing strategy. Depending on your target demographic and marketing goals, a localised offline advertising push can help to build awareness of your practice. Consider enquiring with nearby retail centres offering signage for advertising, as this is a great way to target locals while they’re doing their regular grocery shopping. A similar option is advertising in local bus shelters, another great way to target a local audience. Remember to include your practice’s name and contact information in your advertisements – you don’t want them to forget who you are!

You’ll also want to consider external signage for your practice. Visiting a medical practice can be stressful for a patient, so you want to ensure their experience locating and arriving at your practice is as seamless as possible. A clear street presence improves your patient’s experience from the moment they arrive at your practice and alerts others passing by that you exist!

You can also consider the signage you have inside your practice. You may have added a new service or would like to remind patients to book in for a routine vaccination or screening. You could consider flyers at the reception desk before patients settle into their social media scroll session or opt for posters with bright colours and bold text that will capture their eyes in the waiting room.

Once a patient has visited your practice, email marketing is a great way to keep in touch with them. You may want to set up automated appointment reminders to reduce last-minute cancellations or no-shows. Or maybe you’d like to send out a monthly newsletter that provides existing patients with updates about your practice and relevant health information. Email marketing is a great way to build patient trust and loyalty to your practice, and plenty of online platforms make the process as easy as possible!

What Considerations Do You Have To Make In Your Advertising?

Whether your marketing strategy includes a website, social media, email, or offline marketing, it is crucial to consider the advertising regulations that can impact your messaging.


The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) works to protect the public by ensuring Australia’s health practitioners are “suitably trained, qualified, and safe to practice.”


AHPRA’s ‘Guidelines for advertising regulated health services’ provides a great starting point for wrapping your head around the regulatory framework of advertising your practice. It’s also important to note that other legislation may apply to your marketing, such as the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC).

Keeping AHPRA’s regulations in mind, below are some dos and don’ts when marketing your practice.

DO: Identify Your Target Demographic

Spending $100,000 on billboards in the city might sound appealing and attract many eyes; after all, the more people that see your ads, the better, right? Not necessarily. if your practice is an hour south of that billboard, you’re unlikely to see a return on your investment. Identifying your target demographic will allow you to tailor your advertising channels and messaging to address their needs. Doing so will also ensure you’re efficiently spending your marketing budget and not wasting it on media your desired audience will never see. Quality over quantity!

If you’re an established practice with existing patient data, your practice management system should have reporting functionality to allow you to extract demographic data. If you’re a Bp Premier user, our training team offers an advanced practice management course that deep-dives into the reporting feature. If you’re a new practice, researching the demographics of your geographical location is a great place to start!

DON'T: Use Misleading Images

AHPRA states that advertising may be in breach if the advertisement doesn’t clearly say which treatment has caused the benefit shown in the image or if the image has been edited. That includes using before and after photos, as this may mislead the audience into thinking they will achieve the exact results as the photo.

If you’d like to use images in your marketing materials, people are increasingly attracted to businesses with an authentic feel, and real photos and videos of your practice and team can go a long way to connecting with potential and existing patients. You can also use licensed images from a site like Shutterstock or Getty Images to supplement your original content.

DO: Encourage Reviews From Current Patients

Despite digital advertising being so prominent in modern society, word of mouth has remained the most trusted marketing channel, with 88% of people saying they trust recommendations from people they know more than any other channel (Neilson 2021). Online reviews are the digital evolution of traditional word-of-mouth, with a BrightLocal consumer survey indicating that 49% of respondents trust online reviews just as much as recommendations from family and friends.

Not only can positive reviews help attract new patients, but they can also help you understand how to improve your patient experience. For example, you may discover a patient had difficulty finding your practice’s location, which indicates you might need to enhance your external signage and check your online listings.

A way to encourage reviews is to strike while their appointment is front of mind. You can request feedback while the patient is still in your practice or set up automated emails requesting feedback a couple of hours after their appointment.

DON'T: Use Testimonials About The Clinical Side Of Your Practice In Your Advertising

AHPRA’s advertising guidelines indicate that your advertising “must not use recommendations or positive statements about the clinical aspects of a regulated health service.” Therefore, if a patient leaves a review about how great the medication the GP supplied was for treating their sore back, that review cannot be used as marketing material. Alternatively, suppose a patient review mentions how the receptionist made them feel comfortable and relaxed. That is a great review to include as a testimonial on your website or advertising.

DO: Use Truthful Messaging In Your Advertising Based On Your Practice's Merit

Content is king! Your marketing messaging should be based on your practice’s merit and speak to your level of care. Clear and professional messaging will go a long way to gaining credibility and trust with potential patients.

On your website, you may include:
• Your doctors’ qualifications.
• The history of your practice.
• Your practice’s vision and approach to patient care.

DON'T: Offer Significant Discounts Or Gifts

A retail store advertising a flash 30% off sale is a vastly different story than promoting 30% off a GP consult. Issues arise when the value of the discount or gift outweighs the value of the offering, as this may encourage people to seek unnecessary treatment. According to AHPRA, you can advertise discounts or gifts if the advertisement states the terms and conditions and that those terms and conditions are not misleading. If you’re ever in doubt, it’s best to steer clear of this advertising method.

The success of your practice is greatly dependent on your marketing strategy. Your practice may be just the one someone’s been looking for, so let’s make sure they discover what you’re all about. Take the time to figure out what marketing pathways fit best with your practice’s vision and goals, and don’t be disheartened if you don’t get it right the first time! Make sure to familiarise yourself and any team members looking after your marketing with the complete list of AHRPA’s advertising guidelines and set up a clear framework within the current regulations.

Authored by:

Photo of blog author Tegan Swann

Tegan Swann
Marketing & Communications Specialist at Best Practice Software

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The Patient Population of General Practice

The Patient Population of General Practice Blog Graphic

As a healthcare professional, it’s crucial to understand the benefits of providing tailored and effective care to patients, and planning for the future of your practice. Understanding the population of general practice takes the guesswork out of your strategic business decisions and provides a deeper insight into how practitioners can personalise care.


Fortunately, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) compiles the Health of the Nation Report each year, which includes valuable insights into the patient population. This annual report sheds light on the current state of Australian General Practice. It provides insights into trends RACGP gathers from government and industry publications alongside data from surveying GPs.


To ensure their report addresses the most prevalent topics circulating the general practice landscape, the RACGP asks members to vote on a focus topic. 2022’s Health of the Nation report focuses on the sustainability of general practice; including themes of unsustainable workloads, burnout, administrative burdens, and remuneration. Understanding the patient population is crucial when considering the sustainability of general practice and planning for your practice’s future.


This article summarises RACGP’s findings on the patient population and results from the 2021-2022 Australian Bureau of Statistics information on patient experiences.

What Factors Influence the Patient Population of Australia?

With 84% of Australians visiting a GP annually, it may seem like a no-brainer to tailor your practice’s business and marketing strategy to a broad audience. However, the patient population is constantly evolving. When planning for your practice’s future, it is essential to consider factors such as geography, gender, age, and socioeconomic status and how such factors determine how often a patient may visit and the number of services they use.


It’s no surprise that the geography of patients can impact their relationships with general practice. According to the RACGP’s 2022 Health of the Nation Report, people living in and close to major cities see a GP more frequently. Regional or remote patients visit a GP for an average of four services, compared to eight from patients living in the city or surrounding suburbs. City dwellers are also more likely to have a telehealth consultation than those living in remote or regional areas (32.2% compared to 22.5%), contributing to the higher frequency of using GP services.


The Health of the Nation Report also explores how females access GP services more than males, with 88% of females visiting a GP annually compared to 78.9% of males. This has remained consistent year-on-year. Females also utilise more services, averaging around nine services used yearly, compared to males averaging around seven. Females were also more likely to have a telehealth consultation than men (36.5% compared to 24.8%). Despite Females utilising more services than males, they were 31.3% more likely to delay or not use GPs when needed than 24.8% of males. Similarly, females were less likely to utilise after-hours GP support than males.


Age also affects the frequency of GP visits and services used. 97.2% of people over 85 saw a GP compared to 72.2% of people aged 15-24. Age also contributes to the number of GP services used, with the RACGP’s report showing that the number of GP services used increases as the patient ages. The report also outlines how younger age groups are more likely to delay or not visit a GP due to economic factors, predominantly with the 25-34 age group.


Whether patients have long-term health conditions also contributes to the frequency and use of GP services. Those with long-term health conditions were significantly more likely to visit a GP at 94.5% compared to 71.4% of people without. Also, 6.7% of people with long-term health conditions visited an after-hours GP compared to 4.2% of people without. These results have also remained consistent year-on-year.

What Impact Do These Factors Have on the Perception of Care?

According to the RACGP’s Health of the Nation report, people outside of major cities have different views towards GP wait times and are more likely to report longer wait times for a GP appointment. The increased likelihood of reporting longer wait times may be attributed to 49.5% of people living in regional, remote, or very remote areas being more likely to wait at least 24 hours to see a GP for urgent care.


Similarly, the report indicates that those with long-term health conditions, females, and those living in areas with the most socio-economic disadvantage were also more likely to report longer wait times than other groups. Despite this, the 2022 report indicated that three in four people believe their wait time was acceptable, and 57% of those living in major cities reported waiting less than four hours between booking an appointment and seeing a GP for urgent care.

Some Topics Continue to Prevail...

The 2022 Health of the Nation report highlighted an important topic consistent over the past six consecutive years. The most predominant reason patients see a GP is for mental health, with 38% of consults including a mental health element. This statistic is also reflected from the GP’s perspective of the most concerning emerging patient health issues, with 49% of GPs reporting mental health as their primary concern.

Despite this concern remaining front of mind for the past six years, the prevalence of mental health issues in Australia has grown significantly since the pandemic, with symptoms of depression in patients increasing from 10% in 2020 to 28% in 2021. The report explores how young females are more likely to use GP services for mental health issues than any other group, with 24% of mental health appointments used by females aged 15-24. The rate of females seeking GP support for mental health decreases as they age. However, they consistently remain higher than males, with 25-34-year-old males contributing to 12% of GP Mental Health consults.

The 2022 Health of the Nation Report highlights the importance of understanding patient demographics in the ever-changing healthcare landscape. As the patient population’s relationship with general practice evolves, it is essential to consider how your practice can evolve. Patients appreciate the convenience of telehealth, with 76% of those who have used it agreeing that funding should continue in a post-pandemic world. Telehealth’s recent rapid adoption can be attributed to COVID-19. 

However, a report by RACGP explores how the benefits were recognised pre and post-pandemic. Patients accessing telehealth have increased satisfaction levels as it allows for reduced travel costs and disruption to employment. In turn, telehealth can help to reduce no-shows for your practice. Therefore, if lowering a patient’s barrier to accessing your practice is your goal, consider implementing and marketing your telehealth services. Along the same line, an online booking platform is a great way to evolve your practice into the digital world. In the 2021 Commbank Insights Report, 20% of patients prefer to manage their appointments via websites and apps. Patient satisfaction increases when they can manage their appointments anytime and from anywhere, with 56% of patients who used online bookings saying this process improved their patient experience.

The RACGP’s Health of the Nation report clarifies that a patient’s location, age, gender, socio-economic status, and medical history all play a role in determining the frequency and uptake of general practice services. Combining these patient population of general practice insights with your practice’s unique data can help you develop personalised strategies to meet the needs of your patients.


The complete 2022 RACGP Health of the Nation Report is available here.

Authored by:

Photo of blog author Tegan Swann

Tegan Swann
Marketing & Communications Specialist at Best Practice Software

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Bp Appointment Book Shortcuts

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Our Training and Deployment Specialist, Warren Goertz, has some handy appointment book shortcuts to help you streamline appointment management, including the ability to quickly access existing appointments or search for available time slots.

Look Up Past and Future Appointments For a Patient

To access a patient’s appointment history, simply press the space bar while in the appointment book. From there, you can select a booked slot to view the appointment history for that patient or select any other slot and press space bar to open the search screen and find the patient’s appointment history.

This shortcut is particularly useful if you need to quickly look up a patient’s past or upcoming appointment while during another task. To access the search screen quickly, press Tab and Space in sequence to move off the Booking column and open the search screen.

Additionally, you can access a patient’s appointment history from anywhere in Bp by pressing Ctrl+Space or by clicking the third icon from the left in the main toolbar. This feature enables you to view appointment history without having to have the appointment book open.

Search For an Appointment
   1. Searching For a Free Appointment

a.  Open the Find Appointment Slot screen by pressing Ctrl+F. 

Bp screenshot of screen with Find Appointment Slot open

b.  Look for an available appointment slot by using the Free Period Search function.

c.  Choose your search parameters, including the Start Search date if you’re not searching from the current appointment book date and time.

d.  Decide how long you want to search for appointments by selecting to Keep Searching indefinitely or for a specific number of months.

e.  Click the Find button. Bp will then locate the next available appointment that matches your search criteria and bring it into focus.

   2. Search For a Booking By Text

a.  Press Ctrl+F to open the Find Appointment Slot screen. 

b.  Switch to the Find Text tab.

c.  Select the search parameters. Please note that wildcards cannot be used in the text search.

d.  If you want to search for bookings beyond the current appointment book date and time, specify a Start Search date.

e.  Choose whether to Keep Searching indefinitely or for a specified number of months after the Start Search date.

f.  Click Find First to locate the first instance of the search term from the start date or click Find All to locate all instances.

Book an Appointment

If the patient is already loaded in the Snapshot bar, select an empty slot in the Booking column and press Ctrl+Enter to book them into that slot.

If the patient is not in the Snapshot, select an empty slot in the Booking column and type a search term for the patient you want to book. The search term can be any information accepted by the Search screen (F2), such as the patient’s name, initials, file number, date of birth, address, or phone number. If the patient is found in the system, they will be booked for the empty slot. If there are multiple matching records, select the correct patient from the search results and confirm the booking.

If the patient is not recorded, Bp will prompt you to create a new patient by opening the Patient Details screen. You only need to enter the patient’s first and last name to book an appointment, and you can update their details later.

You can also add a booking from the Waiting List by opening the Monthly view with Ctrl+M, selecting a patient or booking from the list on the right of the screen, and dragging it to an empty slot in the appointment book.

For more tips and tricks, check out our Bp Knowledge Base!

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Document Management In Your Practice

As a healthcare professional, you understand the importance of managing paperwork and patient documents. You would know how challenging this ongoing task can be. It’s an essential daily responsibility that can quickly consume your valuable time — time that could be spent in patient care. It can be tedious, but it’s a necessary part of the job.

Documentation is an essential component of effective healthcare communication. Given the complexity of healthcare and the fluidity of clinical teams, patient documents are one of the most important information sources available to practitioners. Good documentation improves patient outcomes by enabling information exchange and continuity of care by all healthcare team members.

When practice staff upload medical documents, there is always the risk of human error. The document upload process is repetitive and regularly interrupted by patients, phone calls, or colleagues. Admin staff often find this task boring and repetitive making it more likely for them to lose attention. The chances of making a silly little mistake are high – incorrect patient search, selecting the wrong document to be uploaded, and hitting the delete button while uploading are examples of where it can go wrong. This can result in uploading the wrong document into the wrong patient file, which can have serious medico-legal ramifications for doctors and medical practices.

All too often, when files are lost or misplaced, practice staff will spend hours looking for the correct document. This can result in calls to other providers requesting these documents be resent. This time-consuming process happens at the practice’s expense, resulting in patient appointments needing rescheduling and a bad reputation for the practice’s document-handling process. Lost files can also be a safety and quality risk, particularly at transitions of care where there is a higher risk of information being miscommunicated or lost.

GP practices deal with highly sensitive information daily. Little mistakes in documentation upload can lead to significant adverse outcomes in the future. Document management solutions are more than just vaults for securely storing healthcare information. They are dynamic tools that allow for safe and effective collaboration as documents evolve.

The medical document upload tool, OCR (Optical Character Recognition), can upload any file landing in the doctor’s investigation inbox, elevating the burden on staff to sort and upload manually. It is a widespread technology that recognises text inside images, including scanned documents, PDFs and photos. OCR technology converts virtually any image containing written text (typed, handwritten, or printed) into machine-readable text data. The OCR tool can perform an exact match of the patient’s name, date of birth, address, and other identifying details, then sort the documents into their appropriate files as they are received. Saving your practice time and resources that would otherwise be used to manage unsearchable data.

Click here to learn more about how the OCR tool can work for your practice, or arrange a free demo.


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Prescribing a Healthy Dose of Gratitude on World Health Day!

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This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 7 April 1948. During a conference to set up the United Nations, it was proposed that a global health organisation be established to promote health and advocate for healthcare the world over.

World Health Day is an excellent opportunity to pay it forward and show appreciation for healthcare providers who work on the frontline daily. Whether you are a Bp user or not, we would like to extend our utmost gratitude to all the healthcare providers out there.

With this milestone anniversary, we thought we’d use it as an opportunity to take a trip down memory lane and revisit some significant milestones in Australasian healthcare history, recognising events, programs and initiatives that have brought us to where we are today.

St Helens Hospitals - 1905

We begin just after the turn of the 20th century, Following the New Zealand government’s enaction of the 1904 Midwives Act, which enabled the training and registration of midwives by the Health Department. As a result, seven state-owned maternity hospitals were opened to train midwives and provide maternity care for the wives of working men.

Named after St Helens in Lancashire, England, the seven hospitals were the first of their kind anywhere in the world. The first hospital was opened in Wellington on May 29, 1905, and subsequent hospitals were opened in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Gisborne, Invercargill and Wanganui.

The services provided by St Helens Hospitals were gradually incorporated into other hospitals, and the last of the hospitals to close was Auckland, in 1990.

School Dental Services - 1921

Following World War One, the New Zealand Government instituted a state-funded School Dental Service to combat the nation’s poor oral health. Two years later, an entirely female draft of dental nurses graduated – skilled in the use of the pedal-powered dental drill; which was often used without anaesthetic! 

Students who were – perhaps understandably – terrified of visiting the dentist while at school devised an ominous nickname for the service. Students whose names were called out for appointments were said to have visited the ‘Murder House’.

The School Dental Service existed until 2006, when it became the Community Oral Health Service. It now offers subsidised dental care for people aged 18 and under.

Disposable Syringes - 1956

In early 1956, New Zealand veterinarian Colin Murdoch of Christchurch was trying to develop a method of vaccination that eliminated risk of infection. While the ubiquitous glass syringes of the time were designed for multiple uses and sterilised between each use, infection still occurred from time to time.

At 27 years of age, Colin had the idea for single-use, disposable syringes made from a less expensive material than glass. It’s believed that the idea came to him while he was playing with a fountain pen!

He pitched the idea to the New Zealand Health Department, who ultimately dismissed his idea; claiming the invention was obscure and too futuristic. Not deterred by this setback, Murdoch filed a patent application.

Today, disposable plastic syringes are an indispensible feature of medical treatment, with nearly 16 billion used worldwide each year.

Polio Vaccine - 1956

In what would be a significant year for Australasian healthcare, June of 1956 saw the polio vaccine introduced into Australia.

Dr Percival Bazeley of the Commonwealth Serum Labratories (CSL) had been sent to work with renowned American virologist Jonas Salk in 1952, and in 1955 returned to Melbourne and began manufacturing the ‘Salk vaccine’. These were distributed across Australia in June of 1956, with 25 million doses produced by CSL under Dr Bazeley’s watch.

While many parents were enthusiastic about the vaccine, vaccination rates were not high enough, and the lack of herd immunity contributed to further polio outbreaks in 1961 and 1962.

In 1966, an oral vaccine developed by Polish-American medical researcher Albert Sabin was first used in Australia. In October 2000, the WHO declared the Western-Pacific region, which included Australia, to be polio-free.

Oral Contraceptive Pill - 1961

When oral contraceptive pill ‘Anovlar’ arrived in Australia in February of 1961, it ushered in a momentous change for the lives of women. While initially only available to married women, and burdened with a hefty luxury tax of 27.5%, the pill gave women the freedom to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and more carefully plan their journey into parenthood.

Offering women this kind of control over their reproductive future saw more women entering the workforce. More working women became the basis for ongoing social change, including legislation around equal pay and freedom from discrimination.

In 1972, during his first 10 days in office, then Prime Minister Gough Whitlam universally abolished luxury taxes on contraceptives and placed the pill on the PBS list, making it available to women for $1 per month.

Today, the pill remains one of the most popular and safest forms of birth control.

Medicare - 1975

The first iteration of Australia’s public healthcare system began on 1 July 1975, after the passing of legislation by a joint sitting of Parliament of 7 August, 1974 under Gough Whitlam’s government.

After the Whitlam government was dismissed, the incoming government, led by Malcolm Fraser, modified Medibank by establishing a levy of 2.5% on income to fund it – but this levy could be avoided by taking out private health insurance instead. 

Many changes to Medibank followed, such as changes to agreements with states over how much money hospitals would receive, restrictions to benefits and bulk billing, and rebates for those who had private health insurance.

Most of these changes were controversial, and were revoked by the incoming Labor government of 1984, under Bob Hawke. Aside from a name change from Medibank to Medicare, the health system that operated from 1 February 1984 heavily resembled the initial implementation from 1975.

While Medicare remains in place today, it is a hotly debated political topic.

BreastScreen Australia - 1991

The BreastScreen Australia program was introduced in 1991 as a joint initiative of the Australian and state and territory governments. The purpose of the initiative was to reduce illness and death from breast cancer by detecting and, where possible, treating the disease early.

When the program was first introduced, it exclusively targeted women aged 50-69 years of age, believing this was the age group most likely to benefit. In 2013, it was extended to the 70-74 year old age group.

Research conducted in 2017 showed that over the program’s lifespan, breast cancer mortality has decreased at a population level by about 32%. This is due to both improvements in treatment, and early detection from screening.

From national and regional evaluations, it is estimated that early screenings prevent approximately 8 deaths for every 1,000 women screened in the age group of 50-74 years old.

As of 2023, Australian women aged 40 and over are eligible for free mammograms with BreastScreen Australia, with women aged 50-74 still the target demographic being actively targeted to participate.

The List Goes On!

While we’ve touched on some momentous and significant advancements in Australasian healthcare history in this article, there are dozens more events, programs, initiatives and people who have shaped, and made incredible contributions to our healthcare landscape. 

If you think we’ve missed a key milestone in Australasian healthcare history, let us know! We’d love to learn more about it and share it with our readers.

For more information about World Health Day, visit the WHO website.

Authored by:

Photo of Louis Valenti, blog author.

Louis Valenti
Marketing & Communications Leader
at Best Practice Software

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RACGP Three Key Principles for the Secondary Use of General Practice Data by Third Parties

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General practitioners and general practice staff need to be adept at discerning to whom, when and how to provide their data for secondary use. To help GPs and general practice staff navigate this territory, the RACGP has developed recourses centred around three key principles for the secondary use of general practice data by third parties.

In consultation with software vendors, like Best Practice, The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has recently developed resources centred around three key principles for the secondary use of general practice data by third parties. These principles are designed to ensure that patient privacy is protected and that any secondary use of the data is appropriate and ethical.

Patient privacy must be protected. This first key principle means that any use of general practice data must comply with the relevant privacy laws and regulations and that patients must give informed consent before their data can be used. In addition, any third party using the data must have appropriate security measures to prevent unauthorised access or disclosure of the data.

The second key principle is that the use of general practice data must be appropriate and ethical. Meaning that the data should only be used for purposes that are consistent with the primary purpose of the data collection, which is to support patient care. Any secondary use of the data must also be transparent, and patients must be made aware of how their data is being used. Finally, the third key principle is that general practice data should only be used for research or other secondary purposes where there is a clear public benefit. This means that any use of the data must be able to demonstrate a clear and tangible benefit to the public, such as improving patient outcomes or advancing medical research.

These principles are important because they help to ensure that patient privacy is protected and that any secondary use of general practice data is conducted appropriately and ethically. By following these principles, third parties can help build trust with patients and the wider community and ensure that the use of general practice data is seen as a positive development that benefits everyone. It is worth noting that these principles are not binding legal requirements but rather a set of guidelines that the RACGP have developed to promote best practice using general practice data. As such, they are intended to be flexible enough to accommodate different contexts and situations while providing clear guidance on handling general practice data responsibly and ethically.

In practice, this means that third parties who wish to use general practice data for research or other purposes must first obtain patients’ consent and ensure that appropriate security measures are in place to protect the data from unauthorised access or disclosure. They must also ensure that any use of the data is consistent with the primary purpose of the data collection and that there is a clear public benefit to the proposed use. These principles form an essential framework for ensuring that patient privacy is protected and that any secondary use of the data is conducted in a way that is appropriate and ethical. By following these principles, third parties can help build trust with patients and the wider community and ensure that using general practice data is a positive development that benefits everyone.

For more information and to download the RACGP’s resources, please click here.

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The Power of Online Bookings: Increase Patient Satisfaction and Improve Practice Efficiency


Have you ever woken in the middle of the night with a sore throat or an ear infection? You want to book the next available appointment with your local GP, but their reception doesn’t start taking calls until 8am. A common scenario.

In an increasingly digital world where convenience and accessibility are highly valued, patients are seeking digital solutions to find local healthcare providers and make appointment bookings. An online booking system may be the competitive advantage that your practice needs.

Prior to COVID-19, there was a general opinion that older generations may reject the idea of adapting to smart phone technology. Since COVID, most people have had no choice but to become familiar with QR code check-ins, online vaccine appointment bookings and telehealth appointments. Research undertaken by the Global Centre for Modern Aging in 2020 indicates that since COVID-19, 22% of Australian’s aged 60 and over have had an online consultation with a practitioner and 44% had a phone consult, with strong approval.

Some people expect a self-service option when booking their appointments across every industry, a sentiment shared particularly amongst the younger generation. If you are not providing online scheduling as an option, these patients are going to be more likely to switch to a practice that does.

Let’s explore 5 significant benefits that implementing an online booking solution may provide for your practice:

1.     Convenience is KING

One of the main reasons people appreciate online booking systems is the 24/7 convenience and access to your practice. Being able to make bookings on the go and after-hours is a BIG bonus. It grants the flexibility and freedom for patients to book appointments at any time of the day or night. Gone are the days of listening to hold music and being told that you are the 4th caller in the queue. It also empowers patients to facilitate their own healthcare journey and reschedule their appointments when necessary.

2.     Reduced Wait Times & No-Shows

For the majority of us that have come to expect service on demand, this is a hassle-free tool that simplifies the patient journey and closes the loop on patient scheduling. When patients are able to book appointments online, they can see the available appointment times of their preferred practitioner, and then choose the option that works best for them.

Automated appointment confirmations are a key feature that can significantly reduce the number of missed appointments – especially for those with busy lives or for the ones who just have a habit of forgetting important dates.

3.     Improved Patient Satisfaction

Happy patients, happy practice. A patient’s experience is essential to a successful practice. Online scheduling makes it easier and more convenient for patients to manage their own appointments using the web and smart phones. In the 2021 CommBank GP Insights Report, it was stated that out of the 38% of people who manage appointments though apps or websites, 56% reported that these online booking platforms effectively enhanced their overall experience.  Word of mouth is also important to consider, patients who have a positive and seamless experience with your practice are more likely to return and recommend your practice to their family and friends.

4.     Better Resource Management

Introducing an online booking solution can free up your reception staff, allowing them to focus on the patients presenting in front of them. Improved resource allocation can enable admin staff to focus on more pertinent tasks, rather than answering inbound calls and sending out manual appointment confirmations and reminders. According to an article posted by the RACGP in 2022, 60% of practice owners reported working over 40 hours per week and experience significantly higher levels of discontent with their work hours. This is likely a strong contributing factor to 40% of practice owners who state they find difficulty sustaining a good work-life balance.

5.     Superior Data Handling

Online systems eliminate the need for manual data entry and ensures that patient information is accurate and up to date. More importantly, online systems avoid awkward double-bookings, which usually means someone will end up waiting much longer than anticipated. This has the potential to delay the rest of your existing bookings for the day and inconvenience a lot of people that are short on time. However, awkward moments like this can soon be a thing of the past.

Is an online bookings platform the solution your practice needs? Convenience and accessibility reign supreme when cultivating a practice-patient relationship and online booking systems can significantly help improve overall patient satisfaction. Revising your scheduling system may enhance patient satisfaction, retention, and acquisition. It’s often the first interaction patients have with your practice and as we know, first impressions count.

Authored by:

Olivia Savage
Marketing & Communications Specialist 
at Best Practice Software

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Real Time Prescription Monitoring Update

The rollout of Real Time Prescription Monitoring (RTPM) across Australia is one step closer to completion, with the Western Australian Department of Health recently announcing they are next for implementation. Due for release on the 28th of March.

RTPM provides information to doctors (prescribers) and pharmacists (dispensers) about a patient’s history and use of controlled medicines when they are considering prescribing or dispensing these medicines. The Commonwealth, state and territory agencies are working together to implement the RTPM system. However, each state or territory remains responsible for the management of controlled medicines in its jurisdiction.

The misuse of controlled medicines is a growing concern within Australia, with levels of overdose and accidental deaths rising. RTPM allows healthcare professionals to identify patients who may be at risk of harm due to their medication use. By monitoring prescription data in real time, healthcare professionals can quickly identify patients receiving high doses of opioids or other controlled substances. This information can then be used to develop an appropriate treatment plan for the patient, which may include referral to addiction treatment or the provision of alternative pain management options. RTPM also allows healthcare professionals to detect instances of doctor shopping, where patients attempt to obtain multiple prescriptions for controlled substances from different healthcare providers.

The implementation of RTPM in Australia has been successful in reducing prescription drug misuse and abuse. In Victoria, for example, the introduction of RTPM led to a 30% decrease in the number of patients receiving high doses of opioids. Overall, RTPM is a valuable tool for healthcare professionals in Australia that helps prevent prescription drug abuse, reduce doctor shopping, and improve public health outcomes. Technology developments can help reduce the misuse of medicines listed as controlled substances while ensuring that patients who genuinely need these medicines are able to access them.

RTPM is easy to set up in Bp Premier, but before you can enable RTPM in your user preferences, your practice must be using eRx or MediSecure as your electronic prescription service. For more information on RTPM, please visit our Knowledge Base (F1 and search for ‘rtpm’) or your Department of Health Website.

Want to learn more about RTPM? Watch our explainer video for the rundown!

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What Will the Healthcare Industry Look Like in 2023?

We had the privilege of interviewing Anita Hobson-Powell, CEO of ESSA (Exercise & Sports Science Australia). ESSA is an organization with a mission to enhance performance, health and well-being through the science of exercise and sport – and it advocates for tertiary-trained exercise and sports science practitioners. ESSA has over 10,000 members across the professional spectrum, ranging from exercise scientists to exercise physiologists and sports scientists to high-performance managers.

With over 15 years of experience, Anita has made a significant impact in her field and has established herself as a leader and influencer in the industry. In this article, we talk about the current industry trends – including technology, data security, and mental well-being. You will also learn about why understanding the patient and delivering quality care is now more important than ever.

Get ready to be inspired and learn from one of the top players in the game.

What are the Current Trends in the Healthcare Industry? 

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The healthcare industry is constantly evolving, and several trends have emerged in recent years that are shaping the future of healthcare delivery. We asked Anita to give us her insights into the four hot topics that that everyone should be thinking about:

  1. Technology plays a bigger role in the healthcare industry every year. The pandemic significantly impacted the healthcare industry and accelerated the adoption of Telehealth services. Technology has been on the increase. The comfort level of both the patient and the practitioner is increasing.” For Anita, any software that saves time is worthwhile. “Of course, learning a new skill takes time at first, but if it’s an important skill, learn it. With technology, we open up healthcare to more people, and that’s an important step forward.”

  2. The next important topic relates to digital health. “This won’t surprise you, as it is the partner of using technology: data security”, Anita explains. She continues by listing a few questions that should be considered: Where is your data stored? Who has access to it? Is it encrypted? Who in the business need to have access to certain information?” As cyber-attacks are becoming more common, it is vital to protect the patient data. Keeping and managing patient data properly can help the healthcare industry improve quality of care, reduce costs, and grow patient engagement.

  3. Outcomes. “We are seeing outcomes being a bigger focus, and again it links back to technology. If you are providing the service, what data can you show that the person got better or is performing better? You need to justify your service to show that you are doing the right things.” Following outcomes is not only beneficial for the patient, but the practitioner can understand more easily what is working and what is not.

  4. The mental health of the practitioners. Many understand that mental health is a critical aspect of overall well-being that affects how we think, feel, and behave in our daily lives. Good mental health enables people to cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively, and contribute to their communities. In contrast, poor mental health can lead to a range of issues, including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse, among others. “Mental health is being talked about a whole lot more. Are practitioners suffering from compassion fatigue? Are they under financial stress or perhaps under lockdown-related stress? Across the clinical, well-being, and sporting space these things are being talked about, and people are also now asking for help. The fact that this is happening is wonderful to see,” says Anita.
“Practitioner wellbeing is of growing interest in our industry and an important focus for ESSA in 2023.”

An Industry Driven by Patients

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According to LinkedIn Jobs in the Rise in Australia recently released that exercise physiologist was the second highest rising profession in Australia. As the profession is getting more competitive, ESSA will stay busy providing the right tools for professionals to succeed. Anita highlights how the result of this study came to them as a positive discovery, but she is not surprised. “During Covid and lockdown, people started to look after their health more and this resulted in more need for professionals to help people. I am also certain our work affects this growth.”

As we continued the conversation about what was happening in the healthcare industry at the moment, Anita pointed out two key factors that are also current trends, which are related to one another. “One that will affect everyone is funds for accessing services. As the support from the government is dropping a little, people will have to pay for the services more than usual. This will naturally affect consumer behavior and now more than ever consumers are driving the expectations of services.”

“If patient’s are not happy with the service, no matter whether it’s in the clinical, exercise, wellness, or sporting space, they will go to another provider. It’s about understanding the patient and delivering quality care.”

Uncovering 2023

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If we had to summarise our conversation with Anita and what the coming year has in store, excitement would describe it fairly well. The use of technology is growing. More practitioners and patients are adopting digital health. Naturally, data security is a rising topic and more people are keen on outcomes and learning through the data. Now more than ever the patients are driving the expectations of the services and therefore the quality of care is increasing. To come back full circle, mental health is in the middle of it all. Practitioners and other healthcare professionals are more aware of their own mental health and seek help for it. When adding it all up, it sounds like we are going to have an exciting year ahead. Bring it on 2023, we are ready to continue elevating the world’s well-being! 

Did You Know?

Physitrack is your complete digital health tool that consists of exercise prescription, patient onboarding, Telehealth, and messaging and outcome measures. It’s easy to use for practitioners and patients. All in one app.

All data sent to and from Physitrack is encrypted in-transit and encrypted at rest. Keeping patients and practitioners secure is of paramount importance to Physitrack.

Physitrack offers clinical groups powerful and easy-to-use tools that uniquely enable the automated collection, aggregation, and analysis of key data from patients in a clinical ecosystem. Outcome analysis at its best.

Authored by:

Anna Rantala
Marketing Specialist at Physitrack

Article and images attributed to Physitrack. Click here to view the blog.

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Transitioning to a New Software Platform

It’s no secret that transitioning to a new software platform can be time-consuming and stressful, but if done correctly, it is a rewarding and valuable process for doctors and management staff.

The importance of database technology in healthcare cannot be overstated—it’s crucial for doctors, providers, and management teams to access health data quickly and securely. In what seems to be an ever-changing landscape with new rules and regulations being introduced every year, ensuring your practice uses a software platform that meets your individual needs is paramount.

There are many reasons why a practice might decide to change software vendors. Missing crucial functionality, expensive subscription costs, or maybe your practice has decided to change its business model, and your software is no longer a suitable solution. While the idea of change may be daunting, sufficient research, preparation, and perspiration will ensure your transition is seamless and has minimal impact on your business.

Some fantastic IT tools are now available to convert databases from one platform to another. Trial conversions should always be done to ensure the data quality is maintained and that you don’t run into any unexpected issues once your practice goes live with the new software. Typically, at least six weeks of preparation should be allocated for database migration to minimise risk and prevent any last-minute stress.

Some staff may be hesitant about adopting new technologies but employing the proper change management techniques is undoubtedly the best approach. Reiterating the benefits of the new software platforms should help ease concerns, even if staff may see little incentive to change initially. The right amount of training and support from your new software vendor can increase confidence and get hesitant staff onboard with the change.

Most software vendors offer excellent training services and resources to help equip staff with the tools they need to learn a new system. There are four learning styles; everyone has a preferred method: visual, auditory, reading & writing, and kinesthetic. A problem with remotely delivered training can be that it generally only covers the first three styles of learning – seeing, hearing, and reading & writing. While these styles may work for some, many will feel more confident in their understanding when they can practice what they have learnt as they are learning.

The kinesthetic learning style encourages students to be active in their education and find new ways of solving problems rather than being passive, simply observing and listening to demonstrations. Training staff in real-time and putting them in the driving seat will enhance their skills, knowledge and intuition, allowing them to become familiar with the workflows of a new system quickly.

On day one of using the new software in your practice, staff need to feel supported and know that someone is on the sideline available for help whenever it is required. Best Practice Software has listened to the feedback from practices who have previously migrated from other solutions and developed a new training offering to fill this training gap with Bp Go-Live Support.

This new day-one support service involves a dedicated training specialist and a support specialist being available to practices in real-time so that any issues can be quickly and easily resolved. Allowing staff to receive the help they need as soon as they need, reducing anxiety on their first day of operation using the new software solution. Along with learn-as-you-go training, the training or support specialist can also remotely log in to your network to deal with any complex issues that may arise immediately.

Being able to troubleshoot any issues for a practice on their first day of change is imperative in making sure they start on the right foot. For more information, contact Best Practice Software.

Authored by:

Lucy Saul 
Marketing & Communications Specialist 
at Best Practice Software

Matthew Smith
Training & Deployment Specialist
at Best Practice Software

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