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‘Painful’: Confusion plagues MyMedicare launch


Michelle Wisbey


2/10/2023 4:27:55 PM

Technical problems and poor communication meant many GPs were left unaware about the additional steps needed for patient registration.

Close-up photo of a Medicare card.
The Federal Government announced the MyMedicare reform in its May Budget, part of a $2.2 billion commitment to strengthen Medicare.

The new MyMedicare scheme got off to a rocky start over the weekend due to a mostly unknown process that caused teething issues and stopped patients from signing up.
 
Promoted as a way to better integrate patient care and lessen the burden on hospitals, the voluntary program left many GPs frustrated after going live on Sunday as patients frequently faced a ‘no results found’ message when searching for their chosen practice.
 
The technical hiccup occurred after doctors were left unaware of an additional step needed to allow for registration on PRODA.
 
RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins told newsGP the hurdle created ‘unnecessary stress and confusion’ for healthcare professionals and patients alike.
 
‘Given the program’s importance, it’s so vital that they get these initial first steps right so it’s easy for GPs and practice managers to sign up and for patients to sign up, and that obviously hasn’t happened,’ she said.
 
‘As each stage rolls out, we need to make sure that we test it and that practices, and GPs, and practice managers are stepped through at every point.
 
‘When we’re doing change management, I would expect that the department should be informing us each step of the way.’
 
MyMedicare was a centrepiece of May’s Federal Budget and part of a $2.2 billion commitment to strengthen Medicare.
 
Under the program, registered patients will have access to longer Medicare Benefit Scheme (MBS) funded telehealth consultations, and triple bulk billing incentive for longer MBS telehealth consultations for children under 16, pensioners, and concession card holders from 1 November.
 
Then from mid-2024, individual GPs will receive capitation payments for patients who have more than 10 hospital admissions each year.
 
But since being announced, confusion has reigned over the rollout with healthcare professionals left with questions over exactly how it will work.
 
Dr Higgins said better communication is needed, as well as adequate support for GPs and practice managers, including departments not launching reforms on an unstaffed long weekend.
 
‘It’s really important that the department gets its communications out effectively and slowly and brings people with them,’ she said.
 
‘It’s important that the department continues to work with the RACGP and allows us to support our doctors to adopt the practices.
 
‘The key to every relationship is communication.’
 
To make a practice findable for registering patients, the following steps must be completed:

  1. Log in to PRODA and go to ‘services’
  2. Choose the practice, go to the green organisation tile, and then associated sites
  3. Click on blue link to the chosen practice, then program registration, add program
  4. Select new program, drop down box, and choose ‘MyMedicare’
  5. Submit and save
  6. Choose MyMedicare preferences, recommend ‘auto-accept’, save
RACGP Expert Committee – Practice Technology and Management member Dr David Adam labelled it a challenging start to the scheme’s rollout.
 
‘There’s always going to be teething problems, but at least it’s not going to have a huge impact on practices at the moment, in whether or not patients are registered,’ he told newsGP.
 
‘There’s an ongoing agenda for change, and reform of barriers and increasing reliance on our technical solutions and information systems to support that reform.
 
‘It is a big new program and it’s a big new way of doing things … and I think the role of GPs is to really try and advocate for patients and for doctors in making sure that it’s as straightforward as possible.’
 
Additional MyMedicare information for practices, including a GP toolkit, patient registration form, brochures and posters, and fact sheets can be found online.
 
Dr Higgins said she contacted the Department of Health and Aged Care (DoH) early Sunday morning to pass along the concerns, saying they were ‘really responsive and supportive’ of addressing the challenges.
 
The DoH was approached for comment but did not respond prior to publication.
 
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Dr Annabel Kain   3/10/2023 9:08:13 AM

Forget all the IT shenigans, why do both posters have the GP in a white coat with a stethoscope around their neck? Does anyone in hospitals even wear white coats these days?


Dr Olga Elizabeth Randa Ward   18/10/2023 5:13:39 PM

Okay, I can't even find the green organisation tile in PRODA. Ugh! Need step by step screenshots!