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Opinion: Supporting GPs & Health Professionals During Disasters

Aussies and Kiwis have endured a very challenging and distressing summer with the extremes of widespread drought, bushfire, volcanoes and flooding causing havoc and heartache to many communities.  We have witnessed greats acts of heroism and outpouring of support to those affected.  While debate rages about why our climate is changing, it is increasingly obvious that our community must prepare and learn to cope and recover from the inevitable and intensifying natural disasters.

Affected individuals and communities will need ongoing support for many years. I am in full support of RACGP President, Dr Harry Nespolon’s recent lobbying for health professionals to be involved in emergency planning and response at both state and federal levels, and to receive better support during the long recovery phase as they provide support to those impacted by disasters.

Here at Best Practice Software, we have a long history of helping where we can during the disaster recovery phase of major events.  For example, immediately following the 2013 major floods in Bundaberg, we loaned laptops and software to a local GP who was assisting local residents through the provision of healthcare to more than 2000 residents who had been evacuated from north Bundaberg.  This enabled the GP to send electronic summaries of consultations to the evacuees’ regular doctor to ensure a safe clinical handover of information.

But it is the long-term impact of disasters that cannot be understated.  And everyone in the healthcare industry will at one point interact with someone who has been impacted. 

It is welcome news that the Department of Human Services recently announced several new Medicare item numbers specifically for providing mental health services to individuals affected by the bushfires. These new item numbers have been added to the February Data Update for Bp Premier which will be available in the next week.

 Our partner Train IT Medical has also developed some timely and relevant FREE training, aimed at helping medical receptionists support patients affected by bushfires. 

These events are a timely reminder to all practices to ensure disaster management plans are up to date, and that all team members understand what to do to ensure the practice, team and most importantly, your patient’s precious health data is safe and protected. 

For more information, the RACGP has a range of relevant guides, or consult our Bp Knowledge Base for additional help.

       
Lorraine Pyefinch | Director
Best Practice Software