Time is Precious: Streamlining Aged Care Support

Time is a precious commodity in any general practice, let alone during a pandemic, so it’s essential to adopt the technology that’s designed to provide you and your patients with a great service.  

The Australian Government’s My Aged Care service is the entry point for senior Australians to access government-funded aged care support and services, with demand for this service set to increase in line with an aging population.

The Department of Health recognises the central role General Practitioners (GPs) play in managing health and well-being concerns for senior Australians, particularly in the community settings.  As such, GPs can make referrals directly to My Aged Care for support services. 

Each year, My Aged Care receives around 250,000 referrals from health professionals, with referrals from hospitals generally following an acute incident where consumers typically require higher levels of care.

Following several years of consultation, GPs have advised the Department of Health that the current referral pathways (Website, Fax, Call Centre) are labour intensive requiring manual data entry, leading to inefficiencies and risks of error which, in turn, affects the quality and accuracy of the information stored in My Aged Care.

To address these problems and encourage more early referrals by GPs (in order to help minimise acute incidents), a My Aged Care eReferral SmartForm web service has been introduced by HealthLink to facilitate direct submission of referrals from Best Practice Software users nationwide.

Adopting an integrated referral solution on both sides of the referral fence (GPs and My Aged Care) achieves the following goals:

  • Reduces the administrative burden and cost associated with the current health professional referral pathways, minimising manual entry;
  • Increases the number of referrals to My Aged Care from health profeissionals (particularly GPs);
  • Encourages early intervention to prevent avoidable hospitalisations, in line with the Department of Health’s re-ablement approach;
  • Promotes more holistic assessment and service delivery, which also better reflects care needs;
  • Enables faster assessments and more timely access to care; and
  • Improves the quality and accuracy of data stored in My Aged Care

The My Aged Care e-Referral SmartForm design makes it quick and easy to use because it’s securely integrated by HealthLink into the Bp Premier patient record.  Upon launch, the SmartForm pre-populates all the patient and practice details and enables files to be attached from the patient’s record to back up the referral.  This allows doctors and nurses to fill the forms out during a patient consultation, ask the patient questions while they are there and get the referral right, the first time.

Once the e-Referrals are submitted to My Aged Care, a confirmation number is provided by My Aged Care on the submitted form, and a copy is instantly saved back into the patient’s file in Bp Premier.

Since the e-Referral’s launch in October 2019, My Aged Care reports more than 35,000 e-Referrals have been sent, showing just how popular the solution has become with general practices.

The overall quality of referrals has improved, as the e-Referral ensures My Aged Care receives complete, detailed, legible patient and medical information every time.  And the faster a referral is sent and processed, the less time a patient has to wait to be assessed.

A general practice in Adelaide that uses Bp Premier hasn’t looked back since introducing My Aged Care e-Referrals following an initial trial period.  Nurse manager Casey Franchi, who’s worked at Chandler’s Hill Surgery, now uses e-Referrals on a regular basis.

Prior to e-Referrals, Casey used the My Aged Care website to send referrals.

“The website referral is time-consuming compared to e-Referrals because you have to manually type all the patient details in from their file, which can also lead to transcription errors.”

“With the website, because it was time-consuming, I’d have to fill the referral out after the patient had left because it required a big chunk of my time to do it. And then if I needed to ask them a question, I’d have to contact them.”

“In comparison, the e-Referral is in the patient file so you can easily and securely access any documents to upload to back up the referral.”

“Life is so much easier now and I would recommend them to any general practice. The time saved means I can focus on the important stuff like caring for patients and not on filling out forms.”

My Aged Care director of online services and communication Kylie Sauer says e-Referrals have improved healthcare workers’ experience by offering better integration into their existing workflow and taking away the need to exit their PMS to send a referral.

“Sending a referral by fax or the My Aged Care website takes longer. By pre-populating patient information and GP details, e-Referrals are the fastest and most efficient way to refer patients to My Aged Care,” she says.

“Faxes are particularly slow to process on the My Aged Care end, which results in patients waiting longer to be referred for an assessment.”

Watch this short video to find out how you can easily e-refer patients to My Aged Care using your Best Practice Software.

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