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COVID-19: GP Alert - Focus on Telehealth (2 April 2020)

April 02, 2020

PHN Telehealth Support

Your Primary Care Liaison Officer (PCLO) will be in contact with you soon to understand your capacity for Telehealth and other digital services, and any barriers you are facing, to work out how we can best provide support. This alert contains a compilation of resources and information to support GPs and general practice provide telehealth to their patients.

Please also note two webinars the PHN will be hosting next week to support general practices with telehealth and the new MBS item numbers.


Date and Time: Tuesday, 7 April 2020 | 6:30pm - 7:30pm AEST
Click here to access this webinar
Date and Time: Wednesday, 8 April 2020 | 12:30pm - 1:30pm AEST
Click here to access this webinar
About: Get your practice ready for telehealth. Learn how to prepare your software, develop an understanding of new COVID-19 telehealth and telephone MBS item numbers, consider the practicalities of telehealth and clinical documentation (including consent), tips and tricks from experienced telehealth practitioners and how to e Engage your practice team.

Prescription Medications


A new Australian Government Department of Health Special Arrangement helps patients obtain their prescription medicines while self-isolating. The arrangement temporarily allows pharmacists to supply Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines with a digital image of the prescription via fax, email or text message, and to deliver or post the medicines to patients. It also means patients can get PBS medicines without signing for them.

Prescribers or patients can provide a pharmacy with a digital image of their prescription via fax, email or text message. The pharmacist can then dispense, deliver or post the medicines to the patient. The patient or prescriber must then provide the pharmacist with the paper prescription within 15 days.

Please Note: The special arrangement does not apply to Schedule 8 or Schedule 4(D) medicines.

Vulnerable patients can have their PBS medicines home-delivered using the COVID-19 Home Medicines Service. This service complements the expansion of telehealth under Medicare and the fast-tracking of electronic prescribing.

You can request an authority using Online PBS Authorities in Health Professional Online Services.


To assist pharmacies to meet patient expectation and regulatory requirements, when faxing or emailing pharmacies prescriptions for your patients, please ensure to:

> Include a cover letter with key information when a script is transferred. The PHN has prepared a template in for your consideration.
> Verify the pharmacy name and location with patient to ensure you have the correct collection location.
> Advise patients to allow sufficient time for receipt and processing of prescriptions. Due to the increase in quantity of faxed scripts there is a longer than usual delay in processing these prescriptions.
> Include a direct phone contact number to allow the pharmacist to call to discuss essential medication substitutions if required.
> Note: all original prescriptions will need to be posted or couriered to the pharmacy in line with regulatory stipulations. Pharmacies will no longer be collecting prescriptions from GP practices. This will be a significant change from current practice for some sites.
> Obtain informed consent from the patient if you are emailing prescriptions as this is not a secure method of transfer of medical information.


The PHN is encouraging general practices to prepare for EP which is coming soon. Electronic prescribing is an option for prescribers and their patients to use an electronic prescription as an alternative to a paper prescription. To be ready for EP practices are encouraged to sign up for electronic transfer of prescriptions (ETP), if they have not already done so.

ETP is the safe and secure transfer of prescription information between a prescriber (doctor, specialist, dentist, optometrist, nurse practitioner etc.) and a community pharmacy using an electronic system known as a Prescription Exchange Service (PES).

> ETP is an existing process that electronically captures the information that a provider creates when generating a script and transfers that information securely via a prescription exchange service. Currently this information is accessed by the pharmacy by scanning a barcode on the printed prescription.
> Two main providers enable ETP in Australia:  eRX Script Exchange and MediSecure. Both providers are fully integrated with the main GP clinical information systems i.e. Best Practice or Medical Director.
> When a provider uses eRx or Medisecure to print a script, this information goes directly to the patient's My Health Record.
> Individual general practices will need to call directly eRx or MediSecure to get connected.
> Sign up by visiting the eRX Script Exchange or  MediSecure websites.

To learn more, watch RACGP's video explaining how ETP works in a clinical setting.

Please note: General practices signed up for the ePIP will already have ETP in place.



General practices and medical specialists who use Sullivan and Nicolaides Pathology can sign up for e-ordering of diagnostic tests. Results from pathology ordered by e-ordering are uploaded to their patient's My Health Record. For more information about enabling uploading of pathology results to the My Health Record system, please contact your Medical Liaison Manager on 1300 767 284 or email

Practices wanting to sign up for e-ordering have to complete the SNP Form and speak to their SNP account manager to enable the e-ordering on their software.

Queensland Health


Queensland Health have started sending important public health messaging to GPS via secure messaging. eHealth Queensland are encouraging GPs to ensure they have updated details on the Queensland Health STS (Secure Transfer Services) Address Book for the delivery of discharge summaries, clinical letters and results. If you have not done so recently, please complete the STS Form with updated details for the GPs in your practice to ensure they receive this important clinical handover information as soon as it is available.


GPs are reminded that they can utilise Queensland Health’s Health Provider Portal to access results, specialist outpatient bookings and letters, advance care planning documents, discharge summaries and Emergency Department notes from Queensland Health.

Printing from The Viewer

GPs can now download and print vital pathology results from the Health Provider Portal to assist with providing care to their patients. For more information, read eHealth Queensland's update.

Uploading Advance Care Planning documents to The Viewer

Consider preparing or reviewing Advance Care Planning (ACP) and Acute Resuscitation Plans (ARP) documents for vulnerable patients as per the advice provided in the links below. Please forward completed documents to the office of Advance Care Planning (details below) to allow access to these documents by Queensland Health staff via The Viewer should they require it.

Office of Advance Care Planning contact details

PO Box 2274, Runcorn Qld 4113
Phone: 1300 007 227 | Fax: 1300 008 227 | Email:

My Health Record

Please consider uploading shared health summaries or event summaries to My Health Record for all patients seen in the coming weeks, either face-to-face or via telehealth, in case they require urgent care away from their usual care setting. All Queensland Health pathology, radiology and discharge summaries are also easily accessible by opening a patients My Health Record in your clinical software.

Patients are also able to upload their personal advance care planning documents into their My Health Record.

The PHN's Digital Health Team can provide support to practices who are not yet enabled to upload or view clinical information in My Health Record. Email more information.

Upcoming Webinars


Date and Time: TONIGHT | Thursday, 2 April 2020 | 7:00pm - 8:00pm AEST
Click here to access this webinar
About: This live webinar will focus on practical issues associated with delivering telehealth consultations, in particular telepsych consultations.


Date and Time: Friday, 3 April 2020 | 12:30pm - 1:00pm AEST
Click here to access this webinar
About: In this webinar, Dr Paresh Dawda and Mr Gary Smith will discuss telehealth in general practice, the logistics, workflow, business models, MBS and Provider numbers along with accreditation requirements and other challenges.

Telehealth Resources


Guidance on getting started with Telehealth
ACRRM advice on risk management when using video conferencing software
ACRRM Telehealth Standards
Advice for organising telehealth in your practice


RACGP Telehealth Video consultations guide, templates and factsheets
RACGP Video Consultation Etiquette Guide