Using COVID-19 to reimagine the way we work

By Learne Durrington, CEO WA Primary Health Alliance

Whilst COVID-19 has impacted our current ways of working, many organisations worldwide and in Australia are seizing this opportunity to reimagine the way they work.

The movement to mixed models in workplaces seems to be the trend and the last three months have shown us that working remotely has presented some opportunities for further consideration for our future ways of working.

We are focused on shaping WA Primary Health Alliance as a stronger organisation and on holding a space for innovation and opportunity that can lead the WA primary care sector through the new normal and into the emerging future.

At the start of this pandemic, we acted quickly and decisively with the safety of our stakeholders and staff in mind, adapting well to working remotely while continuing to effectively support our commissioned services, general practices and other organisations.

The current outbreak in Victoria is a salient reminder that, whilst we have a low rate of COVID-19 infection in WA, we still need to be diligent and take a cautious approach.

As such, we are working towards a phased approach as we transition to a mixed model for remote and face to face interactions. The first step in this roadmap includes resuming some face to face meetings at our Rivervale and country offices.

Our approach is based on expert advice and with the safety of staff and stakeholders as our priorities, particularly those on the front line of health care delivery.

Since our last update, our work to support the primary care sector and the community has continued, albeit at a slightly less hectic pace. I am pleased to share some of the highlights below.

Feedback from general practice regarding our COVID response has been fantastic. A recent survey of GPs showed that 60% thought PHNs nationally had been mainly supportive during the pandemic.

Closer to home, at its peak, demand for our Practice Assist service saw calls to the helpline increase by 500% and website visits rise by over 40% year on year.

Usage of our HealthPathways WA website, which has nine COVID-19 specific pathways, increased by a staggering 200% year on year.

There is a sense that this time, while challenging, has firmed up relationships and partnerships, particularly among our regional teams, facilitating connections and trust.

On another note, the 141 GP-led Respiratory Clinics, 10 of which are in WA, are responsible for about ten per cent of testing nationally, which the Commonwealth has acknowledged as an outstanding result.

Read more about WA Primary Health Alliance’s ongoing work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including facilitating accommodation to help the vulnerable self-isolate, providing targeted care for high risk patients and facilitating the opening of WA’s GP-led Respiratory Clinics.