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RACGP Digital: Digital home

myRACGP, the RACGP’s new online portal, is a secure and easily-accessible location for communication and exclusive content.

With more than 35,000 members located across Australia, from large inner-city practices to solo clinics in some of the most remote places in the country, it is vital that the RACGP provides a service GPs can easily access in order to connect with their college.

Officially launched at the RACGP’s recent Annual Conference for General Practice – GP16 – in Perth, the myRACGP online portal has been developed to be a ‘digital home’ that is exclusive to RACGP members.

myRACGP is designed to provide members with a single location where they can easily access RACGP resources such as clinical guidelines, internal and external news, learning and professional requirements, classifieds, and more.

‘myRACGP is an example of the college innovating on behalf of its members,’ Dr Bastian Seidel, RACGP President and myRACGP digital adviser, told Good Practice. ‘As an academic college, the RACGP has a responsibility to provide members with the best possible resources and the development of myRACGP means they can now access those resources at a single, easy-to-navigate location.’

According to Dr Edwin Kruys, Chair of RACGP Queensland and myRACGP digital adviser, the new online hub is an improvement on what has been available to members.

‘The RACGP website contains an enormous amount of fantastic resources, but it looks a bit like my backyard shed: it’s so crowded that it’s often hard to find anything,’ he told Good Practice. ‘RACGP staff and its members have produced many valuable resources over the years and we have to make sure they remain easily accessible for GPs.’

As a member-based organisation, the RACGP is ultimately responsible to those members and the development of myRACGP is a solution to one of their most pressing requirements.

‘RACGP leadership responded to member feedback [regarding locating information on the website] and started the big clean up,’ Dr Kruys said. ‘And while they were at it they built a few extra bits and pieces to make life easier, and that’s myRACGP.’

A one-stop-shop

The fact it provides a single online location from which GPs can access all RACGP information relevant to them is one of the fundamental benefits of myRACGP.

‘It is a landing page – or dashboard, if you like – for busy GPs,’ Dr Kruys said.

Research has found that the ability to improve clinical care through areas such as increased service efficiency and reduction in workload is one of the key facilitators of GPs’ use of digital technology.1 myRACGP includes single-click links to a number of clinical guidelines and other important resources.

‘The RACGP libraries will be at our fingertips. We can quickly do clinical searches and links to, for example, the online therapeutic guidelines,’ Dr Kruys said. ‘It will also offer a place for feedback about myRACGP, and members can quickly check their QI&CPD statement and membership information.

‘myRACGP will help to make day-to-day clinical work easier, as all the resources you need are right there in front of you on one screen.’

Dr Ayman Shenouda, rural GP and myRACGP digital adviser, believes the new portal will help RACGP members better interact with their college and take further advantage of everything it has to offer GPs.

‘The benefits are to have a member portal that you can access which tells you all about your relationship with the RACGP,’ he told Good Practice. ‘myRACGP also gives you some news in terms of what is happening in the RACGP.

‘We’re hoping that with this new portal GPs will access not only what the RACGP itself is doing, but also what they themselves are interested in doing within the RACGP.’

As Chair of RACGP Rural, Dr Shenouda is also excited by the opportunities the streamlined myRACGP can offer GPs in more remote locations.

‘myRACGP is so helpful because rural GPs often feel a bit isolated, in terms of upskilling and their relationship with other GPs,’ he said.

Peer-to-peer

The ‘relationship with other GPs’ Dr Shenouda is keen to encourage is represented by shareGP, one of the most innovative and exciting aspects of myRACGP.

‘shareGP is so exciting because members now have a secure online space where they can feel comfortable discussing issues that matter to them,’ Dr Seidel said.

A professional collaboration space, shareGP is designed to allow members to come together with other GPs in a safe online setting.

‘shareGP works a bit like Facebook and is built specifically for those GPs who enjoy connecting with colleagues in a secure, professional social media environment,’ Dr Kruys said.

According to the RACGP’s 2015 ‘Use of technology’ survey, 73% of recent general practice graduates are comfortable with the use of these types of new technologies, while 67% of GPs with more than 10 years’ experience are also comfortable with their use. More than half of GPs (53%) feel confident about experiencing new technologies.2

‘Our membership research shows that the younger generation of GPs use social media a lot and we believe that shareGP will fill a gap for New Fellows, registrars and others,’ Dr Kruys said.

While similar to other forms of social media, an important distinction of shareGP is that it is only available to RACGP members, ensuring users will be interacting with qualified general practice colleagues.

shareGP is Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant and uses the same encryption standard utilised by the government and finance sectors. It enables members to join groups related to individual interests and subjects; share content, such as blogs and research papers; search for and connect with peers; and stay informed about issues and events important to their profession.

‘Members are able to collaborate on projects in the online space, ask and answer questions, and post content, articles, blogs, pictures and videos,’ Dr Kruys said.

shareGP is curated and moderated by members, which allows them to participate whenever and however they like.

According to Dr Shenouda, shareGP helps to fill a void among RACGP members.

‘We communicated with a lot of members and one of their priorities was to get a way of connecting with GPs and some sort of engagement through the membership,’ he said.

‘shareGP is a member space that allows live communication among clinical experts. Part of it will be about seeking advice from expert peers.

‘So if you have a problem, you might put up a question you are facing about a patient or a diagnosis. You can have expert advice about it and some real-life communication with your fellow GPs.

‘Members are always hungry to share their issues and ideas with other members. We want to make that connection as accessible and as flexible as we can and that’s the idea behind myRACGP and shareGP.’

Dr Kruys believes this type of peer-to-peer camaraderie among general practice colleagues is a vital aspect of a representative organisation like the RACGP.

‘shareGP will encourage collaboration and further unlock the potential of our collective wisdom,’ he said. ‘I also hope shareGP will stimulate member engagement – and that we have a bit of fun along the way.’

Ready for the future

As more and more aspects of people’s lives rely on digital technology, the healthcare profession has to continue to adapt to best service its patients.

‘We can see the younger generation [of doctors] using online spaces for a lot of their needs and patients are starting to use digital applications, too,’ Dr Shenouda said.

The development of a reliable and secure online portal like myRACGP, which will see continual improvements according to member feedback, is an example of Australia’s largest professional general practice organisation embracing technology to assist its members and help improve patient outcomes.

‘The future of digital consultation, the future of video interaction, is really coming in the next few years,’ Dr Shenouda said. ‘I think that our GPs need to be oriented to digital services and also be quick in terms of adoption of technology that can help them out in the future.

‘myRACGP is a great initiative by the RACGP in that it’s not only listening to what the GPs want, but also looking forward to what would be the needs of the future and trying to get things available as fast as we can to assist GPs, particularly rural GPs, in the quality journey.’

References

  1. The University of Melbourne, Department of General Practice. Introducing the ‘e’ in health – Uses and views of e-health in the Australian primary care setting: An online survey on general practitioners. Parkville: The University of Melbourne, 2015.
  2. The Royal Australia College of General Practitioners. Views and attitudes towards innovation in general practice: Survey report. East Melbourne: RACGP, 2016.