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RACGP Specific Interests newsletter

16 August 2018

Dr Cameron Loy, Chair

Cam Vid

In focus – eHealth

From Dr Trina Gregory, Chair RACGP Specific Interests eHealth

I think we are surely the most topical group in Australian healthcare currently with the start of the opt-out (expansion) period for My Health Record.

We have seen commentary from just about every group and sector. I am involved in discussion with different groups, including but not limited, to the Australasian Society for HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health Medicine (ASHM). If any of you have been involved in discussions, please let us know with whom and how this went so we can share our experiences.

One of the things that still strikes me as important is the lack of understanding of what My Health Record is in both the provider and consumer sectors and how if functions.

Love it, hate it or undecided, we need to know about it because it’s happening often to us, sometimes with us, but it is ploughing on.

The RACGP, in collaboration with the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA), is delivering a national education and awareness program to support general practice in the use of My Health Record, to help GPs understand how the expansion to an opt-out model is likely to affect their practice and patients.

GPs are already passively contributing to patients’ My Health Records (where they exist), by generating information such as Medicare Benefits Schedule claims, prescribing medicines dispensed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and via electronic transfer of prescriptions (eTP), requesting pathology and diagnostic imaging from participating providers and through the provision of information to government registers, such as the Australian Immunisation Register.

I encourage all of you to attend, either at one of the webinars or workshops, and please make yourselves known to the presenters as a being a member of RACGP Specific Interests.

We would be very interested to hear any stories, good bad or ugly, and about your experiences with the system so far.

One of the areas under discussion is the disclosure of health information by the systems operator.

The My Health Records Act 2012 (Section 70 – Disclosure for law enforcement purposes etc) currently allows the Australian Digital Health Agency, as the system operator, to release information to law enforcement bodies as long as it ‘reasonably believes that the use or disclosure is reasonably necessary’.

The government has recently announced that it is considering changes to the legislation to allow the deletion of records and restrict government agencies' access to patient data.

My Health Record

My Health Record, Australia’s national electronic health record, is transitioning to an opt-out participation model. For Australians who do not currently have a My Health Record, one will be created for them unless they opt-out between 16 July and 15 October 2018.

Consumers and health professionals are increasingly seeking to be informed about My Health Record and its functionality. The RACGP is working in partnership with the Australian Digital Health Agency to deliver an education and awareness program for general practice.

Face-to-face workshops, ‘My Health Record in general practice’, are being delivered in every primary health network (PHN) by ‘GP Digital Champions’. For GPs unable to attend a face-to-face workshop, a series of two-part webinars are available. Both activities are Quality Improvement and Continuing Professional Development (QI&CPD) accredited. Workshop and webinar dates are listed on the RACGP website.

The RACGP has also developed a number of resources to support general practice in the use and understanding of My Health Record. These include My Health Record: A brief guide for general practice and a number of templates for practices participating in the Practice Incentive Program – eHealth Incentive (ePIP). These are available from the RACGP website.

The RACGP eHealth team will be attending conferences in each state and territory talking to GPs and general practice staff about My Health Record.

Find out where we will be on the RACGP website.

If you have any queries regarding the My Health Record education program, please contact


If you are you ready to make the move to telehealth, then this is the place to start.

The RACGP, with support from the Department of Health, has developed a suite of resources to help general practices get started with video consultations.

Also available is the RACGP position statement, On-demand telehealth services.

eHealth in the news

Diabetes apps: Regulation concerns grow
In the 30 July edition of Medical Journal of Australia: Insight, Sarah Collyer explores the pros and cons or the regulatory environment around glycaemic control on Smartphone apps.

Telehealth to fill GP gap 
A free, 24-hour telehealth service for Kambalda Western Australia, residents has been established to temporarily ease the stress caused by the closure of the town’s only GP clinic (Chiat J. Telehealth to fill GP gap. Kalgoorlie Miner. 31 July 2018).

Online consulting in general practice
This BMJ analysis examines how online consulting is developing in UK general practice and its emerging benefits and risks. (Marshall M, Shah R, Stokes-Lampard H. Online consulting in general practice: Making the move from disruptive innovation to mainstream service. BMJ. 2018;360:k1195

Expert pours cold water on My Health Record genomics fears
In newsGP, Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – eHealth and Practice Services, Dr Nathan Pinskier, believes recent reports regarding genomic data being uploaded to the government’s health data repository should not trigger concerns.

Specific Interests news and opportunities

New and returning board members

In 2018, 13 chair positions became vacant. Two new Chairs are been elected – Dr James Best in Child and Young Person's Health, and Dr Tom Turnbull in Custodial Health.

Returning Chairs are:

  • Dr Elizabeth Hindmarsh (Abuse and Violence in Families)
  • Dr John Parikh (Aged Care)
  • Dr Sean Stevens (Business of General Practice)
  • Dr Morton Rawlin (Dermatology)
  • Assoc Prof Bob Davies (Disability)
  • Prof Glynn Kelly (Disaster Management)
  • Dr Carolyn Ee (Integrative Medicine)
  • Dr Georgia Rigas (Obesity Management)
  • Dr Kerry Hancock (Respiratory Medicine)
  • Dr Lara Roeske (Sexual Health Medicine)

Thanks to our two outgoing Chairs for their hard work and commitment – Dr Michael Fasher in Child, and Young Person's Health and Dr Penny Abbott in Custodial Health.

Member Meeting 2018

8.00–9.00 pm AEST, Wednesday 29 August

RACGP Specific Interests Member Meeting will be held online.

All members are invited to review the achievements of the past year and discuss the future direction.

Register now.

Developmental disability in general practice – Less ‘dis’ and more ‘ability’

Wednesday 10 October

Developed jointly by RACGP Specific Interests Disability and Child and Young Person’s Health, this ALM focuses on effectively dealing with health vulnerabilities of individuals who have developmental disability within the general practice and community settings.

Discussion will highlight both the importance of diagnostic accuracy and the need to assess functional strengths and weaknesses. The ALM will provide ready access information relevant to patients with developmental disability.

The ALM will be held on the GP18 ALM day. Book for ALM06 when registering for GP18.

National Faculties Evening @ GP18

Friday 12 October 

Now in its third year, the National Faculties Evening is becoming an annual conference tradition.

This event will be held on Friday evening at the Kurrawa Surf Club in Broadbeach, members and friends of RACGP Specific Interests, RACGP Rural and RACGP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health are welcome.

To join in the celebration of our members’ involvement and contributions to general practice, sign up for the National Faculties Evening when registering for GP18.

Are you presenting @ GP18?

In early October, RACGP Specific Interests will be distributing our annual pre-conference newsletter.

If you are presenting at GP18, please email the details of your contribution by Friday 7 September to ensure details of your presentation, workshop, poster or clinical update are included.

Walk against obesity @ GP18

7.15 am AEST, Thursday 11 October 2018

Join RACGP Specific Interests Obesity Management to ‘walk against obesity’ and show your support for World Obesity Day on Thursday 11 October.

The aim of the walk is to highlight the health issues associated with obesity and the importance of the GP’s role in the care and management of people who are above a healthy weight.

Sign up for the walk and meet up in the foyer of the Gold Coast Convention Centre.

Integrative approaches to women’s health ALM

Save the date – Saturday 17 November

RACGP Specific Interests Integrative Medicine will present an ALM on ‘Integrative approaches to women’s health’ on Saturday 17 November 2018 at the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) Research Institute (Western Sydney University, Westmead Campus).

Further details coming soon.

RACGP Specific Interests resources

Recordings and slides from RACGP Specific Interests webinars are now available on the RACGP website, including the ‘Obesity management’ webinar series, the ‘Changes to cervical screening' and HIV PrEP. 

More presentations coming soon.

Conference report: WiGP and SHM combined conference – A sexual health medley: Detect, prevent and treat

On the weekend of 15–16 June 2018 in St Kilda, RACGP Victoria Women in General Practice Committee and RACGP Specific Interests Sexual Health Medicine held the conference A sexual health medley: Detect, prevent and treat. Ninety-eight GPs attended the two-day event with presenters coming from all around the country. 

The conference opened with ‘Emerging Australian epidemics: Syphilis and Neisseria gonorrhoea – What is the role of the GP?’ presented by Dr Vincent Cornelisse and Dr Kym Collins. Attendees were informed of the best practice principles for screening, diagnosing and management of syphilis and Neisseria gonorrhoea. 

Attendees participated in various clinical sessions to advance their skills and confidence in a range of procedures and interventions including:

  • processes to support the implementation of intra-uterine devices in general practice
  • optimising sampling and transfer of clinician and self-collected samples in the renewed National Cervical Screening Program
  • meeting the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and/or intersex (LBGTI) people
  • applying updated sexually transmitted diseases testing approaches in general practice.

Non-clinical sessions were also presented, including a presentation on ‘Presenting with passion, purpose and persuasion’, and a very informative story from Dr Sarah Lewis on ‘The first five years of practice ownership’.

Conference attendees participated in and observed role-plays on how to discuss safe sex with patients and define what ‘safe sex’ means in a general practice context. They also discussed multiple case studies on how to counsel patients seeking medical abortion – the advantages and disadvantages compared to surgical abortion. 

Approximately 50 GPs attended the cocktail networking event on the Friday evening to unwind and catch up with colleagues, friends and presenters over canapés and a drink. 

Thanks to Dr Lara Roeske, Dr Magda Simonis, Dr Karen Price, Dr Marina Malcolm, Dr Katy Harrison, Dr Manisha Fernando, and Dr Nimah Logue for their contributions and following sponsors for their support.


National news and opportunities

Practice Experience Program– New pilot program to support non-VR doctors

The RACGP has launched a new education program to support non-vocationally registered (non-VR) doctors on their pathway to Fellowship.

The Practice Experience Program (PEP) will provide targeted educational support for non-VR doctors, primarily international medical graduates, to help them to prepare for RACGP Fellowship and to deliver quality general practice care to their patients.

The PEP will commence as a pilot for 400 doctors in January 2019. It will be delivered in partnership with the Regional Training Organisations. The pilot is Commonwealth Government supported resulting in a reduced cost to participants.

Applications will close on Monday 27 August 2018.

For more information, please visit the PEP pilot website.

External news and opportunities*

2019 Australian Pain Society Annual Scientific Meeting – Call for abstracts

Sunday to Wednesday 7–10 April 2019

The Australian Pain Society (APS) Scientific Committee is seeking abstracts for topical sessions on the theme of ‘In the IASP global year against pain in the most vulnerable’.

The 2019 APS Annual Scientific Meeting will be held on the Gold Coast. Abstract submissions close on Friday 21 September 2018.

Topical sessions are allocated 90 minutes within the conference program and abstracts must be submitted through the submission portal.

More information is available on the APS Scientific Meeting website.

Advanced clinical tools for management of breastfeeding, cry-fuss, sleep and mood problems: Masterclasses in neuroprotective developmental care

Friday and Saturday 21–22 September 2018

The developmental origins of health and disease, including the significance of the first 100 days, is widely acknowledged. Confusion remains about how this knowledge might translate into clinical practice in the highly sensitive weeks and months post-birth. Parents report dissatisfaction with the conflicting advice they receive when they seek help for breastfeeding, cry-fuss and sleep problems post-birth.

Community-based neuroprotective developmental care (‘The Possums Programs’) has been developed out of an integration of cross-disciplinary research to offer innovative clinical tools for the management of breastfeeding, cry-fuss, sleep problems and parental mood. The programs are focused and suitable for time-constrained consultations and integrate strategies from acceptance and Commitment Therapy. 

Masterclasses will be held in Melbourne for GPs, paediatricians, child health nurses, midwives, lactation consultants, speech therapists and other health professionals interested in developing advanced clinical skills in community-based neuroprotective developmental care.

To read more or to register, please visit the Possums for Mothers and Babies website.

Read ‘Australian primary care researchers develop new tools for evidence-based management of breastfeeding problems, unsettled infant behaviour, and maternal mood’ by Assoc Prof Pamela Douglas on shareGP

Department of Veterans’ Affairs news

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) has released the following information to assist GPs in consultations with DVA patients:

Improving access to mental health care for transitioning Australian Defence Force personnel 

Advises that DVA is providing White Cards to around 5000 Australian Defence Force (ADF) members per year to improve their access to mental health care after leaving the ADF. 

Provisional access to medical treatment (PAMT) trial for veterans

Informs health providers that ex-ADF patients who have an injury or disease that relates to one of 20 nominated conditions, the DVA can fund medical and allied health treatment while they await the outcome of their liability claim. 

Changes to process for allied health referrals

Advises the way that a GP refers DVA clients to allied health providers is set to change from July 2019 following adjustments in the 2018–19 Budget.

Click for more information