COVID-19 has had and continues to have a big impact on conventional general practice service delivery.
The vaccine rollout is placing another layer of stress and disruption to the return to “normal” services and the risk is that some patients could be underserviced during the coming months.
Currently, all practices need to be considering how to continue delivering ”normal” GP practice services in the months ahead – while trying to accommodate efficient and safe COVID-19 vaccine delivery.
The type of services that will need focused consideration at GP practices in the months ahead are:
- Acute Care – Influenza, increased presentations of respiratory tract infections – including bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma, exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) – all this in a COVID-19 safe environment where there is a need to be cautious about including COVID-19 pathology testing. As well as the usual assessment of acute clinical presentations for the entire body.
- Chronic Disease Management – need to return to working with patients and re-engage with their Care Plans – for chronic disease, including chronic and complex disease e.g. Diabetes, Heart Disease, Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Osteoporosis etc. which involve a multidisciplined team care approach: GPs, practice nurses and allied health to work with patients to achieve healthcare targets and better outcomes, to arrange, complete and compare appropriate pathology and radiology investigations, prescriptions and arranging medication management reviews where appropriate, referrals to specialists and allied health.
- Preventative care – ensure all vaccines are given and patient cover is up-to-date in a timely manner (especially in line with a two week gap from when patients receive their COVID-19 vaccines – especially the Influenza vaccine which is due now and over the next 2 months); Pneumonia vaccines; Whooping cough vaccine etc and also lifestyle management advice e.g. exercise, diets and relaxation advice etc.
- Aged Care – general health checks and Aged Care Health Assessments, medication management reviews where appropriate, Aged Care assessment team reviews. My Age Care reviews to ensure appropriate home assistance, especially for patients with cognitive disorders/dementia; Falls prevention, Residential Aged Care Facility visits.
- Mental Health – appropriate and regular review of patients with acute and chronic mental health conditions – making time to consult patients for acute, mental health crisis; GP Mental Health Care Plans -working closely with psychologists and psychiatrists.
- Palliative Care – appropriate services for patients on cancer treatments and palliative care in their homes.
- Infants and children – regular follow up for milestone checks and vaccinations.
- Pregnancy – deliver antenatal share-care and maintaining good health during and after pregnancy, vaccines.
- After hours care – provide advice on services and/or access for patients on arrangements that the GP practice has in place.
- Telehealth where appropriate
The next few months are going to be very challenging for you and your colleagues so it’s going to be vital to monitor your and practice colleagues’ mental health and wellbeing.
Leading Practice Intelligence Platform Cubiko has been rolling out programs to assist GP practices with identifying and monitoring patients that fit into most of the above categories. For more information visit www.cubiko.com.au