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A Day in the Life of an Online Training Specialist…in Isolation

Online training specialist - Bec Bland - Best Practice Software

The commute into the home office is a very short one and frankly, I’m not sure trying replicate my local coffee shop in my kitchen is entirely worth it, but I’m caffeinated and ready to join my team for a day of online training at 8:00am sharp.

The small talk and chit-chat that would always serve to start my day has been replaced with tenuous negotiations with my dog for ownership of the comfy office chair. I don’t want to be that co-worker, so we meet in the middle, and share it.

Once logged in for the day, the first port of call is to work my way through the online training team email inbox, and to respond to the enquiries that are eagerly waiting for me. Recently, these emails have become even more of a mixed bag than usual. There are constant changes to MBS items and eligibility, new software features geared towards COVID-19 through the Bp Partner Network, along with the usual onslaught of industry news and updates to digest.  After replying to a few emails, I make a few phone calls to customers – it’s important to find the right online training product on a schedule that best fits. Then it’s time for a coffee break – just like at the office.

Much the Same But Different

Most of my day revolves around the part of my role that I love the most – providing online training for you, our Best Practice users.  This can take one of several forms; a customised online remote training session, one of our new Online Group Training sessions, or a large group session as part of our Masterclass, or Be In The Know free webinar series.  Despite all of the changes that come with working from home, it is comforting to know that my ability to train has not been hampered. The exception, of course, being the previously mentioned sub-par coffee facilities.

It’s also been fascinating to see how the needs of customers have changed, but also remained the same throughout such a challenging time for the health sector. The new necessity of telehealth in the current landscape has provided plenty of opportunities to ideate on the most suitable workflows for receptionist and clinicians alike, as well as perspective-opening discussions on new billing strategies to support the remote consult experience. However much remains the same; job seekers are still getting in touch to upskill and give themselves a competitive edge.  Practices are still hiring new team members, and are looking to help them hit the ground running.  GPs are returning from retirement, opening new clinics with the vision of exclusively performing telehealth consultations to relieve some of the burden on their fellow doctors.  Even long-time users of Best Practice Software are getting in touch to learn a few tips and tricks to maximise their efficiency in such a fast-paced and busy time.

So while much has changed about my working conditions and the flavor of questions that I help to answer, ultimately there is still a sense of normalcy in the broad range of online training needs that I can assist with each day.

The Afternoon Wrap-up

Finally, as the caffeine starts to wear thin, and my afternoon draws to a close, it’s time to follow up with the day’s customers and close the loop.  Every remote training session includes a video recording, so these are shared with the customer and any lingering questions are answered via email.  After one last peek at the inbound training team email inbox, I close the lid of my PC, and get ready to repeat it all over again tomorrow.

The dog can finally have the chair to himself.

Authored by:

Rebecca Bland
Training and Deployment Specialist at Best Practice Software

Transitioning to a Work From Home Business

As the world continues to fight and adapt to this ever-changing situation, many businesses have needed to become more innovative and agile in the way they’re operating. Globally, businesses have had their normal work routines flipped upside down and are now being challenged with navigating the unknown. For many, this involves transitioning to a work from home business. This sudden loss of control is difficult for businesses, and for many, this will be a very scary time.

For businesses who already have systems and processes in place, adaptation to a work from home business will be simple. However, for others who may be less prepared, the ability to adapt won’t come as easily and this will present an enormous challenge in an already stressful time.

When considering what can be done to make this navigation of the unknown less stressful, I would like to share three key points that I think allow a business to easily adapt and continue (with some modification) with business as normal.

Well-considered WFH Policy and Procedures

Having a clear direction and an outline of requirements is important to ensure everybody remains safe and understands what is expected of them.

The introduction of any policy should be necessitated by a business need, or to set a minimum standard for the topic that is being covered. When introducing any policy or procedure, the author should always have the business in mind. A good start would be to ask questions such as, ‘what is the desired result of introducing this policy or procedure?‘, or, ‘what past changes have not gone so smoothly?‘. Also question the why, ‘what is the demographic of our people?‘ or ‘what are the minimum access requirements (role, home environment, etc.) and technology needs?‘.

Some basic inclusions for a work from home business policy should include: 

  • The purpose of the document;
  • Guidelines for request considerations – connectivity, role resources, role suitability and workspace; 
  • The frequency or period of this arrangement;
  • Guidance on the logistical or performance details, which may include attendance while working from home, communication and timeframes, home insurance needs, information privacy and security, safety and well-being and WFH expenses.

Items such as these will not only set a clear business requirements and objectives, it will also make it clear to employees what is expected from them to uphold the arrangement.

Required Documentation

I am not talking about paperwork for the sake of paperwork, but having some simple documentation to assist and protect your business and its people when adjusting to a work from home business. It is very important that, as a business, you understand your obligations when it comes to safety, and it is just as important that your team understands their obligations when entering into a work from home business arrangement.

Both the business and its people need to understand that work from home business arrangements are an extension of the workplace, and therefore all business policies and safety protocols will apply, albeit with some modifications. As a business, you have a few options to ensure that your staff’s WFH environment is safe and that the arrangement will not present additional risk to the business or the team member.

Conducting safety and risk assessments of the work from home business environment is a good place to start, and there are a few ways that this can be done. The first is by employing an external party who will conduct an in-house assessment of your staff’s WFH environment. Alternatively, you can have your staff complete a self-assessment that includes photographic evidence to support their self-assessment outcomes. These self-assessments should include such areas as ergonomics (chair, workstations and set-up); potential hazards (trip and slip); general walkways to common areas and exits; first aid; lighting (natural and artificial); work environment climate (air-conditioning, fans, fresh air); and location of power supplies.

The home working environment needs to be assessed as if it was an area in the workplace.

Communication

Communication is the conduit that brings all of this together. It’s the start of the process when the business introduces the work from home business arrangement. It’s the connectivity that the business will have with its people, it’s the checks and balances that managers will use to stay on top of their peoples’ outcomes, and it’s the best way to ensure businesses expectations are met and adequate support is being provided to the team.

The business should have – within its policy or setup within its teams, how people will connect and the frequency of these connections. At the start, this may be more frequent and as time progresses the frequency may become less. Ideally, contact and communication should still occur at least at the start of the day and once during the day, not dissimilar to how you’d greet your team at the start of each workday when you arrive, and chat casually or formally throughout the day. This will help remind staff that support is available if they need it.

There is an incredible variety of technology available to businesses these days. This includes platforms such as email, video conferencing, instant messages, use of collaboration software like MS Teams, Zoom, Skype and alike – and let’s not forget the good old telephone. Although not all of these platforms will be needed, it’s a good idea to review the communication needs of your business, the pros and cons of different software options and the volume of contact that your business will need when communicating with its people.

These three key points mentioned are only a guide to the endless possibilities that are available to assist in navigating the unknown in transitioning to a work from home business. It’s extremely important that organisations implement processes and systems that are right for their business. Take the time to ask questions, research and understand what value these changes will provide your business, especially in these unique times.

Authored by:


Brendon Croft
People, Culture and Capability Manager at Best Practice Softwar

Staying Cyber-Secure: Cyber Security Risks During COVID-19

COVID-19 may not be the only virus health organisations need to worry about.

The current COVID-19 crisis afflicting the world has changed the lives of billions of people. Forced into isolation in both our private and working lives, more employees than ever before are now working from home across most industries. With this major crisis leaving many hospitals and healthcare organisations on the edge of their breaking point and more vulnerable to serious technological disruption, it was almost inevitable that the technological vultures known as cyber criminals would soon be circling, looking to maximise profits against vulnerable, high-value targets.

The following article is intended to shine a light on some of the recent concerns surrounding cyber security during COVID-19 that are occurring around the globe, and will provide readers with some quick safety tips and resources for further information. All information provided is general in nature, as we are not IT security advisers, and recommend specialist consultation where possible.

The Current Situation – Cyber Security During COVID-19

Healthcare organisations have traditionally prioritised spending (and rightly so) on equipment and staff over ICT infrastructure, which has unfortunately led to healthcare organisations often being behind the curve when it comes to cyber security with the perception of being “soft-targets” to cyber criminals.

Australia is no exception, as illustrated by the well-publicised ransomware attack affecting multiple Victorian hospitals in October of last year (ACS, 2019).  Figures released by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OIAC) showed the Healthcare provider sector to have the highest number of reported data breaches for the entirety of 2019 (OAIC, 2019).

A worldwide increase in serious cyber crime attacks against vulnerable health industry targets has prompted a tightening of cyber security during COVID-19. Interpol has released a purple notice to its 194 member countries warning of the increased number of targeted ransomware attacks (Interpol, 2020), and the World Health Organisation has also reported a two-fold increase in attempted cyber attacks; both on their organisation, and other organisations in countries such as Spain, England, America and Thailand.

A particularly severe event in the Czech Republic left a major hospital and COVID-19 testing centre without access to critical equipment, forcing the delay of surgical procedures and relocation of some patients to other institutions (Humanitarian Law & Policy, 2020).

Cyber Attack Vectors

Though ransomware/crypto attacks are often the most publicised methods of attack, increases in multiple attack types have been observed and warned against by numerous security agencies including the FBI, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) to name a few (www.us-cert, 2020). Some of the more common ways in which attacks happen have been listed below.

Human/Social Engineering Risks

Regardless of the security posture of any organisation, and despite even the most robust IT systems, the weakest point in any infrastructure is always the user. Some common methods used to manipulate users into circumventing security controls are listed below.

Phishing

There is a reason phishing emails are such a common occurrence, despite “Nigerian Prince” type scams being the “oldest trick in the book”—people are still falling for them, so they’re still being used. In this context, likely scenarios are emails convincing users to open malicious attachments that steal personal information or install remote access trojans (RAT).

Emails can also convince the user to click links to malicious websites that mine the user’s IP address or install Remote Access Trojans.

Several recent phishing campaigns have been observed on our shores, with emails purporting to be from the WHO and Australia Post for the exact reasons listed above.

Business Email Compromise (BEC) Attacks

Closely related to the phishing, several email scams have been reported whereby users are conned into donating money to COVID-19 charities, including some purporting to be from the WHO.

An additional form of a BEC is a spoofed email pretending to be from one of the targeted business’s VIPs, directing an employee to provide passwords or transfer funds to different accounts.

Vishing

Closely related to the above voice phishing (vishing), is an impersonated phone call attempting to verbally achieve similar goals to phishing, by coercing a user into providing personal details, credit card numbers or browsing malicious web links.

Smishing

SMS phishing (Smishing) uses SMS messages for similar purposes to vishing.

Tech Support Scams

Tech support scams may take any of the above forms and usually involve a malicious actor attempting to convince a user that they need to “urgently” access their computer remotely to fix an issue, when in reality they are after computer access to install a RAT or otherwise cause harm.

Obtaining remote access to a target system is particularly effective in circumventing firewalls, as often rules are applied that ignore returning traffic if it was initiated inside the network. Meaning while a malicious actor can’t launch malicious traffic directly from an outside source, they can have a user initiate first contact and then gain access via the reply traffic.

Technical Risks

DDOS Attacks (Distributed Denial of Service)

There have been some minor increases in DDOS-type activities, where malicious individuals try to overwhelm systems with massive traffic volumes for botnet armies etc. Firewall policies can mitigate these as can most ISPs.

Software and Operating Systems

End of life or out of date OS software is always a security risk in organisations. Microsoft ended support for Windows 7 and Server 2008r2  in January of this year, meaning any newly discovered security vulnerabilities will not be patched in these operating systems and they should be upgraded as soon as possible.

Even the latest versions of operating systems are vulnerable without adequate security patching and up to date Anti-malware software.

Remote Access Technologies

The rapid expansion and increased reliance on work from home infrastructure, tools such as VPN appliances/concentrators, RDP endpoints, communications platform (Zoom, Skype) and remote access platforms such as Citrix, have exacerbated security risks and formed threats such as poor network design, configuration mistakes and out of date devices and software.

Several vulnerabilities were found to have been exploited in major vendor products including Citrix, Palo Alto and Fortinet. Likewise, an increase in phishing attacks centred around popular communications software products Zoom and Teams, where in some instances sessions were even hijacked by external sources.

A majority of these issues can be avoided, by merely ensuring OS, hardware and software products are up to date with the latest patches, and by using security controls such as strong passwords and two-factor authentication.

Risk Mitigation

With the increased in aforementioned risks, it is clear organisations and medical Practices should take steps to ensure they do not become victims as a result of lax cyber security during COVID-19.

Though by no means a replacement for specialist cyber security advice, some simple risk mitigation steps for the above threats include:

  • Stay abreast of current threats and trends. Links for some official advisories are included below.
  • Carefully read and ensure emails are from a legitimate source and don’t click on suspicious links or attachments.
  • Never give out account or personal information. Financial institutions will never ask you for passwords or account details.
  • Ensure you only use supported and up to date versions of operating systems and software, with particular emphasis on anti-malware products and communications. Outdated software is more likely to be a target for security vulnerabilities.
  • Ensure all remote access technologies are up to date with patches and monitor the vendor websites for notification of recommended updates.
  • Use strong, hard-to-guess password or better yet “passphrases”. “mydogsnameisspot” is vastly superior to “spot123”. HINT: Password1 (or similar) is not an acceptable password at any time.
  • Use two-factor authentication where ever possible. Though it can be frustrating at times, it is preferable to falling victim to a cyber attack.
  • Always ensure you have backups of critical data and systems, preferably offsite and encrypted. This is particularly important for Best Practice Software users. For details on how best to back up your Best Practice software, contact support.
  • Consult a cyber security specialist for tailored advice on cyber security during COVID-19.

This is a confusing and often daunting time, especially for those new to remote working arrangements, where the security and peace of mind of the office network is no longer present.

However, cyber security during COVID-19 starts with simple, manageable precautions that can and should be undertaken by everyone to ensure security for you and your organisation during this unprecedented time.

Security Advisory Services

Though by no means an exhaustive list, the following links are to official government security advisories for warnings, and should be monitored regularly for advice on cyber security during COVID-19.

Australian Cyber Security Centre
Australian Cyber Security Centre – Protecting Your Small Business
Department of Homeland Security – Risk Management for Novel Coronavirus

Authored by:

Mark Dexter Best Practice Software

Mark Dexter | Technical Operations Analyst
Best Practice Software

Mental Health in the Age of COVID-19

It is 3:00am and I am awake. Again.

This is the third time this week. I reach for my phone and open up my social media app where I scroll through the latest COVID-19 updates in a group of doctors that is 13,000-strong. My eyes frantically try to keep up with numerous graphs, projections, news stories and the impacts of compromised mental health during COVID-19. Scattered in between these are personal stories of frustration, anger or even complete denial of the scale of the problem.

By the time I manage to get to work and see my first patient at 8:00, my mind has already spent 5 hours ruminating about COVID-19. My eyes are dry and my shoulders already feel heavy. Surely this behaviour is unsustainable? A chat in the tearoom with my colleagues, sitting 1.5m away from me, reveal this phenomenon to be common.

As we find ourselves in the midst of a one in 100-year event that has upheaved our daily schedules, it is normal to feel stressed, worried or anxious. With rapidly changing government policies regarding work and play, isolation and uncertainty prevails over consistency, routine and social interactions. Many of us in the healthcare and technology industries, who are still able to work and have a steady income, watch in fear as those in the hospitality, retail and tourism industries lose their jobs and livelihoods. We worry about the future and about the economy.

Is the government doing enough?
Why did they let all those people off the Ruby Princess?
Are we doing enough to look after mental health during COVID-19?
Will there be a global economic recession or a depression on the other side of this pandemic?

Stress occurs when there is a perceived threat that is beyond our ability to control. When we are are stressed, there are physiological changes within our body that cause us to be more alert and vigilant. This is commonly known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. If the threat is continuous or persistent, those physiological changes can affect our emotional health and well-being in the form of anxiety.

Anxiety, much like a chameleon, can manifest in many ways. It can be as subtle as mild irritability and a reduction in concentration, to a more noticeable insomnia, early morning rising or reduced appetite, to full blown panic attacks with physical symptoms. This can be compounded by our current situation of physical and social isolation, that has become an mandated part of life today.

How Can We Deal With the Constant Strain on Mental Health during COVID-19?

The first step to coping is to accept that there are many variables that are completely out of our control, such as the duration of this pandemic; how many people will be affected; how others are responding to the situation and if there is enough toilet paper at the shops.

The second step is focusing on the variables we do have control over – such as our daily routine, finding enjoyable things to do at home, connecting with and supporting our friends, families and colleagues. Practically this may involve simple things like going for daily exercise in the morning, getting ready everyday, going to ‘work’ in a dedicated room and clearing it away when work has finished, having breaks, doing activities with the family, debriefing with friends and colleagues and switching off the news and social media. Some workplaces have created virtual ‘tea rooms’ or ‘water coolers’ in their respective meeting applications where staff can drop in at random times, as they would if in an office, and catch up with other colleagues whom they may not interact with regularly.

Of the above, daily exercise is proven to be the most effective intervention for stress at a population level. This is likely because sunlight and the natural hormones that get released during exercise can elevate the mood. For me personally, limiting social media and the news has also helped significantly as my brain gets a break from the constant negative stimulus after 7pm every night. Re-discovering the myriad of enjoyable things to do at home such as gardening, board games and reading, to finally getting through the decade old to-do list of sorting travel photos and decluttering, these activities have provided a welcome sense of achievement.

The link below is a great resource that explains how our normal worries can become excessive, and it provides some methods on how we can stop ourselves from progressing through a negative chain of thoughts that can lead to heightened risk to our mental health during COVID-19. There are also some practical tools included, such as an Activity Menu to keep occupied and a Decision Tree about how to prevent ourselves from overthinking things which are out of our control.

Click here to download a helpful PDF on managing stress and anxiety during this difficult time.

If these simple measures do not help to improve how you are feeling, then it may be time to check-in with your GP.

Authored by:


Dr. Fabrina Hossain
Clinical Advisor at Best Practice Software

Helping Patients Locate Practitioners Offering Virtual Consultations

As the government continues to expand funding for telehealth services in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, practices are shifting to telehealth consultations to protect their practitioners and Practice staff.

Amongst patients, however, there still exists widespread confusion around what constitutes telehealth.

Is it bulk billed?
Do I need to pay a gap?
How do I get my scripts?
What if I need a physical examination?

These are all questions that frequently arise.

Whitecoat has recently launched a Telehealth Hub that connects practitioners with patients requiring telehealth services. Patients can view practitioner profiles, including customer reviews, and book a telehealth consultation directly with their chosen practitioner or Practice.

It’s particularly useful for those unable to access their regular GP, as a key feature is the ability to connect with practitioners offering virtual consultations Australia-wide.

The service also helps to de-mystify telehealth for patients with answers to frequently asked questions. These topics are being expanded as new threads arise and include links to relevant government resources.

Whitecoat is currently giving Best Practice Software customers the opportunity to offer a listing on the Whitecoat Telehealth hub for free. Doing so provides your Practice with access to the Whitecoat’s annual audience of 2.5 million users.

To list your Practice on the Whitecoat Telehealth directory, simply fill out this short form.

 

Preparing your Practice for ePrescribing

The recent and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a devastating loss of life and significant disruption to the daily lives of every Australian. In addition to restrictions and measures imposed on recreation and socialisation with family and friends, it’s heaped more strain on an already under-pressure medical system.

However, black clouds often have silver linings, and in this case, one such silver lining is that the Australian Government has fast tracked the implementation of electronic prescriptions (ePrescribing) nationwide to reduce unnecessary community contact, and prevent the spread of the virus.

ePrescribing is a measure that, at any time, might be a convenience, but with current events is a crucial measure in preventing the spread of the virus. According to a fact sheet released by the Australian Government Department of Health, many people will not contract COVID-19, and 80% of those who do are likely to only experience mild illness. However, there are vulnerable members of the community, such as the elderly or those with chronic conditions, who are at greater risk of serious illness.

For these members of the community, ePrescribing is a measure that will carry great benefit, while also protecting frontline practice staff, pharmacists, retail workers and other shoppers.

Under the new measures, ePrescriptions and medication dispensing will be fast-tracked for 80 percent of General Practices and community pharmacies over the next eight weeks.

How is Best Practice Software Implementing ePrescribing?

Our team has acted quickly and is prioritising the development of this functionality for our next release of Bp Premier. It will be present in the Jade SP3 update, which has an expected release date in June.

How Do I Get My Practice Ready?

If your Practice is currently on a version of Bp Premier older than Jade, we strongly recommend upgrading to Jade SP2 ahead of the Jade SP3 update. Updating to Jade SP2 now will give you and your Practice staff time to become familiar with changes introduced through Jade SP2, and will lessen the impact of upgrading to Jade SP3 – which will leave more time for your Practice to adapt quickly to the new ePrescribing functionality.

It is understandable that during this unprecedented but still very busy time, a software update might seem like an inconvenience more than anything. However, we’re committed to supporting your Practice during this difficult time.

We’ve also pre-booked regular interactive FAQ sessions to provide you with access to a Best Practice Software Support Specialist, should you have any questions about the upgrade process. Click here to book a session and get your Practice-specific questions answered!

Finally, don’t forget that if your Practice uses Bp Premier, you can always access our free, extensive Knowledge Base from within your software by accessing the Help menu, and then selecting ‘Online’.  By typing in ‘Upgrade’ you’ll find comprehensive guides on how to make upgrading your version of Bp Premier more manageable.

Video: ePrescribing Q & A for Patients

We encourage Practices to share this video with patients and staff, to help them understand the benefits of ePrescribing.

Improving Patient Communication During Unprecedented and Unusually Busy Times

For those practices who are currently enrolled and using the Best Health App, sending notifications via the App may help to reach some of your most vulnerable patients and, subsequently, the patient reach may be improved.  This may help to reduce the need for more direct methods of communication such as phone calls, SMS and emails.

The three communication options available through the BHA include Practice Notices, Health Awareness messages and Individual messaging. Before we jump into using these three communication options, let’s quickly review the messaging types available in Bp Comms.

Message Type Consent Type

Appointments

A patient is allowing the practice to send messages about their booked appointments, either as needed or on an automated schedule.

Can be sent individually or in bulk.

Implied consent.

Where communications form part of the doctor-patient relationship

Where communications are in accordance with a clinical duty of care

Clinical Reminders

A patient is allowing the practice to send messages to them about attending appointments for health care of a preventative nature, such as reminders set for care plans, immunisations etc.

Can only be sent in bulk.

Clinical Communication

A patient is allowing communications to be sent to them about their investigation results, medication compliance, or other important information of a clinical nature.

Can be sent individually or in bulk.


Health Awareness


Health Summaries

A patient is allowing communications to be sent to them about a health issue that may be relevant to them, or important information about the services your practice provides.

Can only be sent in bulk.

Using the App you can send patients

  • Health Summaries
  • Patient Education Materials (Factsheets)
  • NPS and CMI Leaflets

Express consent.

Where consent cannot be implied for the communications.

Consent must be given explicitly, either verbally or in writing.

Practice Notices

The first option is using the Practice Notices function within Bp Comms configuration.  This can be sent to all patients enrolled in the Best Health App and may help to communicate information on a whole clinic basis such as new isolation procedures or trading hours.

Best Health App

Health Awareness Messages

The second option is sending messages to a group of patients via Health Awareness messaging.

You have the ability to message your vulnerable patients in groups such as patients with chronic illnesses, patients over 70 years of age or those with newborn babies.

Examples of the messages clinics might send;

  • Instructions on visiting your clinic – identifying isolation areas or separate entrances
  • Informing patients they may be eligible for telehealth or telephone consults,
  • Providing useful hygiene and health tips specific for their chronic illness
  • Send a patient Health Summary which can include their prescription information

Please note – your patients must expressly consent to Health Awareness messaging to receive these messages.

Sending a Health Awareness message works in three parts;

  • Part 1 – Set up your templates within the Bp Comms configuration
  • Part 2 – Run a search in your database. Filter patient list using age, conditions or medications
  • Part 3 – Run a mail merge to generate the communication to bulk group of patients

Remember that Best Health App messages are not limited by characters, therefore, you will only be charged one credit per message sent regardless of its length.

Individual Messaging

Don’t forget practices have the ability to send app messages directly to individual patients as normal via the Appointment Book.

     Where to find more information

For more information and instructions on how to utilise the Best Health App messaging options please click on the Vimeo link below.

Bp Premier JADE SP1 Masterclass – Patient Communication using Bp Comms.

Alternatively, access the Knowledgebase directly via Best Practice under the Help > Online > Search for Best Health App.

Resources

Click on the links below to access our PDF guide to give you all the information you need for using Bp Comms and the Best Health App.

A full guide to getting started with the Best Health App is also available on our Knowledge Base.

Living the App Life – Our Journey Developing the Best Health App

Building the Best Health App has certainly been a journey. It’s progressed from an initial idea to countless workshops, engaging with our customers at the 2017 Bp Summit for feedback on desired features and functionality, a bit of external consulting, creating our own internal app team, starting a multiple stage testing process, and live beta sites, all before the public release.

Our journey started with an idea and vision to bring a patient’s health record right into their own pocket empowering them to take control of their health care journey. So, no matter where a person is travelling, they can always access their clinical information to improve the care that they receive.

This idea quickly gained traction as it also provides a completely new way for Practices and Doctors to engage with their patients and improve their overall relationships. It opens the door to the concept of Patient Experience (PX) and the first consumer facing product for Best Practice Software.

We engaged an external agency, experienced in app design, to ensure our technical design followed the latest industry standards, security models and technologies.

We then put together our own internal team which grew to six dedicated developers as well as additional supporting technical staff. The team works across both the Best Health App and Bp Premier Practice Management System ensuring a seamless integration between the two products. Our subject matter experts (SMEs) and the broader team across the business also played a pivotal role in identifying the product requirements for each feature.

Getting to public release required a highly collaborative approach across all areas of our organisation to ensure that we were ready to give practices the best possible customer experience. Training, sales, marketing, support and legal all had to come together for us to make the public release a reality.

Yeah Nah, Not So Simple…

Things are always more complex than they seem initially, and we have faced many challenges along the way that have required significant effort and collaboration by the team to resolve.

Challenges are opportunities and we welcome them.

One of the ongoing challenges is balancing out the integrated feature work between the Best Health App and Bp Premier. This required cross-team coordination to ensure the two products worked seamlessly together. As an example, we created a Patient Check-In feature in the app, which required substantial integration work to ensure we adhered to the patient identification criteria outlined by the RACGP and meets the standards of patient identification in Australia.

The messaging component between the Best Health App and Bp Premier provided many challenges. We started with a straightforward requirement for doctors to be able to send messages to patients that soon morphed into a complex exception management framework with identified points of failure and defined recovery methods. The result being a streamlined experience driven by preferred communication based on patient preferences. The Best Health App includes many types of messages such as appointment and clinical reminders, patient education material and practice notifications. This solution decreases overall messaging costs and creates savings for practices.

Privacy & Security

Security, privacy and storage of patient’s sensitive data is critical and forms the architectural backbone of the Best Health App.  The team engaged with security experts to solution a framework that met the security and privacy guidelines necessary for this type of patient app. The outcome is a platform that enforces Australian data sovereignty and ensures we are using the latest encryption methods and tools available. As testimony to all this hard work, we received a very high security score for the penetration testing that was conducted by an external party.

In addition, we completely remodelled the Patient Consent process to help manage Patient Privacy, giving patients the choice of communication types, they wish to receive. The Patient Consent process was part of the Bp Premier Indigo SP1 release and received a significant amount of positive feedback from external parties.

Exciting Times Ahead

It has taken us close to three years to get to this point where we are confident that we have the right architectural framework to ensure all bases are covered in respect to Practice and patient confidentiality and the security of all personal and clinical data. We have a solid foundational product that is clinically and technically safe and effective, upon which we can confidently build more features for Practices and patients to meet the growing need in the community to have greater flexibility and control over their time and access to clinical information.

With an ever growing percentage of people accustomed to doing almost everything online at a time that fits in with a hectic lifestyle, having a trusted app that connects patients to their Practices, where they can manage medical appointments, reminders and other clinical information in the one place can provide peace of mind and empower people to take control of their health care journey.

This is an exciting time for everyone involved and we cannot wait to release more features and continue to enhance patient experience for our industry.

Co-authored by:
Henry Vesander
Product Manager
Meg Gugenberger
Product Manager, Best Health App

Managing Appointment Flow for COVID-19 Patients

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, front-line primary care services are facing an unprecedented surge in demand for services and patient care.  Managing this demand may feel like quite an undertaking for you and your Practice, however effective utilisation of your clinic’s Appointment Book may assist in Practice planning and forecasting of demand.

Appointment Book – Dedicated Resource Column

By creating a Resource column with a label such as ‘COVID-19’ in your Appointment Book, your Practice will be able to easily identify potentially infected patients at a glance. This method is also highly effective when creating ‘Fever Clinics’ in your Practice. A Resource column can be easily created by adding a new user to your Practice, selecting the ‘Resource’ user type, and ensuring the ‘Has Appointments’ option is selected. To enact this, book all appropriate patients into this column in your Appointment Book, then other practitioners in your clinic will be able to start consults and finalise visits for billings to be processed.  

Strengths and Weaknesses

  • Easily view demand per day by viewing the number of appointments in the column
  • Highly beneficial when creating a Fever Clinic in your Practice
  • Can be difficult to ascertain historic demand if Practices transfer appointments into their column for billing when finalising visits

Using Appointment Types

One other method of managing and measuring appointment flow within your Practice is to utilise specific appointment types when booking patients.  As part of the March 2020 revision data update, new item numbers for Medicare telehealth and telephone consults were added to Bp Premier, as well as a new appointment type named Telephone Appointment. 

Using this functionality in conjunction with the Telehealth Appointment type, and creation of a custom COVID-19 appointment type, are in-built features which could help your Practice identify at-risk patients.

Another Bp Premier feature that will provide additional insight is the running of reports from the Appointments category.  This report will show historical trends in demand, including peaks and troughs for each appointment type, which could be useful for anticipating future trends in demand.  Custom appointment types can be added by accessing your Configuration settings, which are located within the Lists component.

Pros and Cons

  • Easily identify trends in historic demand per day by running an Appointments report
  • Avoid overbooking practitioners by booking patients directly into their usual sessions in the Appointment Book
  • May be challenging to accurately triage over the phone
  • May be challenging to ensure consistency amongst a large team when booking these appointment types

These are just two methods that may assist you in monitoring the flow of patients through your practice during these unprecedented times.  For information or more ideas on workflows, access the Knowledge Base from within Bp Premier and search for ‘COVID-19’.

Authored by:
Rebecca Bland
Training & Deployment Specialist at Best Practice Software

Bp Allied: Assisting Practices With Navigating COVID-19

Globally, we are all facing unprecedented times in an ever-evolving situation due to COVID-19.  Our healthcare system will be placed under immense pressure over the course of this time and many of your clients will be seeking ongoing support from your practice due to new and pre-existing conditions or mental health issues arising from the anxiety surrounding COVID-19.

Here at Best Practice, all our staff are now working from home to ensure our business can continue to support you during this busy period.  You may also be considering moving your staff to a work from home situation or a change in normal working structure to deal with this extraordinary time.  These changes will bring challenges.

However, Bp Allied is able to assist you to alleviate the stress in this transition. We’ve gathered a few hints and tips to help you navigate your practice through these difficult times.

Transitioning to a Hosted Environment

Bp Allied Fully Hosted is the perfect solution for any practice wishing to work in different locations while maintaining a single database and an overview of the entire practice.   For our customers currently hosting BP Allied internally, you may wish to consider transitioning to our fully hosted service to give you more flexibility in work locations. 

Bp Allied Fully Hosted Subscription benefits:

  • Allows staff to access Bp Allied from their home computers or other remote location;*
  • Suitable for Windows and Mac;
  • Backups every 30 minutes;
  • Secure Australian Servers; and
  • Support and Upgrades readily available.

* A suitable internet connection is required.

If you’d like to discuss moving to a Fully Hosted environment please call our Sales Team on 1300 40 1111, Option 3, then Option 2.

 Telehealth Appointments

Telehealth will be a crucial tool in maintaining client appointments for those that are isolated.  Click here to download a short PDF on how to use Zoom with Bp Allied.

For our customers taking advantage of Physitrack, a reminder that Physitrack has an inbuilt Telehealth service.  Telehealth video calls are completely free with Physitrack until 13th April 2020, so now is a great time to sign up.

Bp Allied users get access to Physitrack at a greatly reduced price of only $8.99 p/m (regular subscriptions are $13.99 p/m). If you’d like to know more about Physitrack visit www.physitrack.com

 Online Appointment Bookings

Taking advantage of our HealthSite Integration to allow clients to book their own appointments will significantly reduce administration time for your practice.  Healthsite seamlessly connects to Bp Allied to allow your clients to book a real-time appointment with your practice 24 hours a day. 

Healthsite are generously giving our Bp Allied customers three months free access to their online booking service until 31st March 2020. 

Visit  www.healthsite.com.au or phone 03 9592 8986 for more information. 

SMS or Email Communications

You may be required to communicate certain information to your clients regarding a change in working hours, office structure or other notices concerning COVID-19.   Appointment Reminders are a great way to provide this information, to create a new SMS or Email template within Bp Allied, go to Data Maintenance > Reminder Templates.

Medicare Online Claiming

Our development team have rushed out the latest COVID-19 MBS Items for use with Bp Allied.  These items cover patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 virus but are not in hospital or patients who have been required to isolate themselves in quarantine.  Bp Allied customers wishing to utilise these MBS Item codes will need to follow the instructions in a PDF here to update the included MBS Item list.

We welcome you to join our discussion forum and share any other hints or tips in managing your practice with your colleagues. 

All the Best!

Authored by:

Melissa_Staff

Melissa Dobell
Account Specialist at Best Practice Software