In Practice: Updates to COVID ‘existing relationship’ requirements

Morgan Liotta

7/04/2022 1:31:12 PM

The AskMBS Advisory has updated its existing relationship clarification for COVID-19 MBS telehealth services, including exemption categories.

GP in telehealth appointment
An exemption category for COVID-positive patients isolating at home has been added to the COVID-19 MBS telehealth ‘existing relationship’ requirements.

This week’s round up also includes how practice owners can learn more about clinical governance in their business, last calls for 2023 AGPT Program applications, and an upcoming webinar on the barriers and safety of providing medical abortions.
AskMBS Advisory – existing relationship clarification
The Department of Health’s AskMBS Advisory provides information and advice for GPs and other medical practitioners about the COVID-19 MBS telehealth ‘existing relationship’ requirement, including clarification of exemptions.
Recent updates to the document include:

  • confirmation that Government-declared hotspots are no longer in force, and the removal of previous references to them
  • the addition of a new exemption category for patients diagnosed with COVID-19 who are isolating at home, including people who have received their positive diagnosis by a PCR test or rapid antigen test, including by self-test
  • information on longer telephone consultation items 92746 for GPs and 92747 for other medical practitioners, advising that from 1 January 2022:
    • the previous hotspot requirement for these items has been removed, and they are now available to all Medicare-eligible people
    • these items are now subject to the existing relationship requirement.
Clinical governance and practice ownership
Why is effective clinical governance important and who is responsible for it in general practices?
Standards Chair Dr Louise Acland and QIP General Manager Mr Stacy Kambouris will answer this question at the upcoming Practice Owners National Conference on 14–15 May.
Their session will discuss models and applications of clinical governance and how this works when practice teams are contractors.
According to the clinical risk management quality improvement standard in the fifth edition RACGP Standards for general practices:
‘The clinical governance of your practice gives you management and organisational structure for continuously improving the quality of your services and patient care. It creates an environment where excellence in clinical care will flourish because all team members accept responsibility for the services and care the practice provides.’
Reminder on updated image-based prescribing arrangements
As of 31 March, the arrangements for image-based prescribing, implemented under the COVID-19 National Health Plan, have ceased in the primary care setting.
To be best prepared with the most up-to-date regulations, GP prescribers can liaise with their local community pharmacies to ensure patients can continue to access their medicines in a timely manner.
Electronic prescriptions can be offered by prescribers as part of their practice, by issuing an electronic token to a patient via SMS or email. Active Script Lists (ASLs) are also available for patients who require multiple medications.
Image-based prescriptions issued on or before 31 March 2022 with existing repeats in the community setting will still be honoured after this date. These must continue to be retained by the pharmacist for subsequent supply of the medicine, until the prescription runs out or expires.
Arrangements for image-based prescribing in hospitals is available to 31 March 2023.
The Department of Health has developed fact sheets to assist prescribers and pharmacists with these changes.
GPs and medical abortion – challenges, barriers and safety 
Webinar: Monday 11 April, 7.30 – 8.30 pm (AEST)
One in five Australian women will have an abortion in their lifetime, with early medical abortion an option to respond to an unintended pregnancy.
However, access to services, particularly in rural areas, and high out-of-pocket costs remain significant barriers for women wishing to exercise reproductive choice.

The second in the AusCAPPS network webinar series, this event is hosted by Chair of RACGP Specific Interests Sexual Health Medicine Dr Amy Moten and focuses on the challenges, barriers, and safety and legislation of medical abortion, with a focus on general practice in rural and regional settings.
Register online.
Academic post pre-application
Webinar: Thursday 21 April, 7.00 – 8.00 pm (AEST)
An academic post is an Australian General Practice Training term to learn academic skills through individualised learning plans, with mentoring and support from training providers, universities and the RACGP. 
This free webinar is for GPs in training interested in undertaking an RACGP Academic Post as part of their training. 
Hosted by the RACGP Education Research Unit and Monash University Academic Support team, this webinar will provide a detailed overview of the program, the application process, and give participants the opportunity to ask questions throughout the live session.
Participants will also hear from the chair of the panel who assesses submitted applications, as well as a previous academic post registrar.
Register online.   
Applications for 2023 AGPT Program closing soon
For the final chance to embark on a career in general practice, applicants are reminded that registrations for the 2023 Australian General Practice Training (AGPT) Program close at 11.59‌ pm (AEST), Tuesday 19 April.
For those who missed the recent AGPT Program webinar series, the recordings are available on the RACGP website.
The webinars include all the information to complete applications for the program, including:
  • the application and selection process
  • eligibility
  • exams
  • Fellowship in Advanced Rural General Practice (FARGP)
  • rural pathways.
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