Four innovations in general practice you should know about
- On 22/09/2016
Innovation seems to be the buzzword of the season, especially when it comes to health and general practice.
But the challenge of how can we do we provide quality care, better, faster and more efficiently, is a question doctors around the world are trying to solve.
Here is a look at some of the creative tactics doctors are using in Australia and abroad to make better use of their time and boost patient care.
1. Shared medical appointments
Recently trialled in eight medical centres across Australia – these US-style programs allow patients with similar chronic conditions to share appointments, along with other allied health practitioners.
Shared medical appointments use peer support, reduce costs and improve patient and GP satisfaction.
Each patient might have a different question about their illness, but everyone else gains by sharing their experiences. And for GPs, the appointments make better use of their time.
Read more about SMAs here.
2. Point-of-care tests
Point-of-care tests, such as Rapid Pathogen Screening’s test for pink eye, saves time for doctors and patients and cuts down on unnecessarily prescribed antibiotics.
Rather than sending specimen samples to a lab and waiting for results, doctors can use this in-office diagnostic test. The test identifies the adenovirus in about 10 minutes with a tear sample.
The test, developed by a US company, has already received regulatory clearance in the US and Europe. The growth of point-of-care technology is changing the face of healthcare.
Doctors are increasingly using point-of-care devices to diagnose acute conditions and some chronic conditions. They have the potential to improve outcomes in primary care by optimising prescribing decisions, reducing referrals, improving efficiency of care and decreasing costs.
Read more about the Department of Health Point-of-Care Testing trials here.
3. Email, SMS and social media communication
While many Australian healthcare providers connect with patients via the telephone, the use of email, SMS and social media is increasingly used around the world. Approximately 35% of doctors email patients in the US and UK, and in Switzerland 68% communicate electronically with patients.
There is even a national mandate in Denmark that all individuals have the ability to email their primary care physician.
The advantage of email communication is efficiency and measurability. Practices can set up automatic emails to remind patients to come in for regular check-ups or follow-up consultations. Practice staff can then track who engages with and acts on this communication and follow-up call people who haven’t responded.
Social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn are also key channels that enable practices to connect with their communities in a personal way. This gives medical professionals a way to start conversations and post content that patients may be interested in.
However, there are some barriers to communicating health information in Australia, as health information is sensitive and patients’ privacy must be protected.
Read how to use social media for your practice here.
4. Common medicines card
The common medicines card/database used in Denmark is a system that gives relevant providers (GPs, hospitals, home nurses, pharmacies) access to information about prescription medicines for all citizens.
Not only does the system give providers immediate access to current medication, it reduces medication errors, which significantly impact a patient’s health and healthcare costs.
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