Supporting general practice adapt to COVID-19

WA Primary Health Alliance is supporting general practices as they continue to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, many practices, and the teams who staff them, have had to change the way they operate to ensure quality care can be maintained.

Highland Medical is offering patient care via drive through clinics and telehealth GP consults, in preference to in practice consults.

As a Health Care Homes practice, a model designed to support people with chronic conditions to better manage their health, this change is particularly important given their patient profile is at greater risk of more serious illness, if they were to contract COVID-19.

A group of people sit in a half circle. Many of them are wearing scrubs.
Staff at Highland Medical.

To assist the team at Highland Medical as they work through these new challenges, WA Primary Health Alliance staff organised a virtual meeting to discuss how the practice could continue to provide ongoing support, where and how it was needed.

WA Primary Health Alliance’s Health Care Homes Project Manager, Adele Allan said prior to COVID-19, she regularly met with the practice’s various team members.

“But we’d never really gotten everyone in one room together at the same time,” she said.

“We decided to organise a virtual meeting and get all the staff together to discuss how we can support the whole of practice.”

The meeting covered topics such as using telehealth during COVID-19, the availability of masks and personal protective equipment, using platforms such as My Health Record.

A key outcome of the meeting was to provide additional support for the practice’s nurses to help them carry out care planning without a patient ‘in the room’.

Ms Allan said while a lot of information was covered in a short time, the nurses, GPs, reception staff and the practice managers remained engaged.

“This is great example of a practice with engaged leadership that is very patient centered,” she said

“It’s team-based care. They all have their role to play and come together to operate really successfully.”

Additionally, WA Primary Health Alliance is working closely with the team on improving data collection.