January-February 2021

Latest News

Capacity Tracker helps support medical services during emergencies

Gippsland PHN is offering a cloud-based, online tool to support general practices, residential aged care facilities and Aboriginal medical services during emergencies.

It also provides a platform to facilitate the vision of Gippsland PHN in working with primary care to assist in emergencies.
Gippsland PHN is required by the Victorian Government to keep an internal list of primary care providers that may be willing to scale up during an emergency situation and Capacity Tracker will make this process more efficient.

Fast, secure and free, Capacity Tracker monitors the status of a number of areas including staffing levels, PPE supplies and bed capacity.
First developed by the North of England Commissioning Support Unit (NECS) and used to manage the flow of patients between NHS hospitals and care homes in the UK, Gippsland PHN is adopting and adapting the system for Gippsland.

Capacity Tracker will enable Gippsland PHN to support general practices, residential aged care facilities and Aboriginal medical services by: 
  • Understanding service capacity in Gippsland;
  • Facilitating access to primary care providers in emergencies;
  • Provide intelligence on local factors affecting the delivery of primary healthcare;
  • Enabling Gippsland PHN to work collaboratively with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Department of Health (DoH) in co-ordinating emergency responses;
  • Supporting and coordinate local provision of primary care relief services and supplies, including vaccination and PPE.

Gippsland PHN is now seeking expressions of interest from regional general practices, RACF and ACCHO in using the platform. Incentive payments and full onboarding support are available to all applicants.

If you want more information or would like to lodge an expression of interest, please email


New Thunderstorm Asthma HealthPathway  

Building on the current suite of asthma pathways, Gippsland PHN has published two new clinical pathways to support patient care.
They are:

The existing suite of asthma pathways can be viewed here and includes:
  • Acute Asthma in adults
  • Acute Asthma in children
  • Non-acute Asthma in adults
  • Non-acute Asthma in Children
  • Asthma in pregnancy
  • Differentiating COPD from Asthma
  • Prescribing Medicines in Asthma – Adults

Need a login? Request access here

Regional Health Workforce Survey

Gippsland PHN is surveying people who work in health care across the region to inform future workforce and service planning.

The voluntary survey may be a regular feature of the Gippsland PHN Health Needs Assessment with data helping to plan, grow, recruit and retain our regional health workforce.

It is aimed at Gippsland’s health workforce including primary care and allied health professionals and those who work in behavioural health including mental health (clinical and non-clinical), alcohol and drug, specialist counselling (e.g. gambling, sexual assault, financial and family violence) and school counselling services.

General practitioners are not included as Rural Workforce Australia Victoria's (RWAV) Regional Victoria GP Workforce Survey explicitly captures GP workforce data. Gippsland PHN and RWAV will work together to share data and learnings for workforce development.

Survey questions include:

  • identifying occupation
  • identification of extended competencies (extra education)
  • interest in additional training/education
  • length of tenure and hours worked in current position

The survey takes about five minutes to complete and is open now until mid-February 2021.

Information collected in the online survey will be stored securely. De-identified information will be analysed, summarised and used by Gippsland PHN to inform workforce planning.
For more information, contact Liz Craig at or on 0437 396 991.
Go to the survey link at

New priority issues papers available

Gippsland PHN prepared new priority issues papers in December to facilitate strategic health planning in priority areas to help inform service planning, market gaps, co-design priorities, and investment decisions.
Local intelligence from Gippsland PHN teams and Advisory Group members is included in the papers. If you would like to provide feedback or discuss the content of the papers, please contact
December papers:
Dental health in Gippsland December 2020
Primary Care- keeping people out of hospital December 2020


HeadtoHelp Hubs showcase their work to the community

HeadtoHelp Baw Baw and HeadtoHelp Wellington hubs held official openings over the last week to showcase their work to the community and other health local services.

Among the guests at the Baw Baw event was Federal MHR for Monash, Russell Broadbent while guests at the Wellington event included State MLA for Gippsland South, Danny O’Brien and Mayor of Wellington, Cr Garry Stephens.

Gippsland PHN Chief Executive Officer, Amanda Proposch, spoke of the valuable work of the hubs in their respective communities.

In other HeadtoHelp news, four new satellite centres opened on 11 January at Lakes Entrance, Bairnsdale, Traralgon and Leongatha. The South Coast site is located at Leongatha Healthcare, the Latrobe site at Flourish Medical Centre in Traralgon and the Lakes Entrance and Bairnsdale sites at Gippsland Lakes Complete Health.

For details on the satellite centres, see the media release.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact:
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • beyondblue Support Service – 1300 224 365
  • Suicide Call Back Service – 1300 659 467
  • MensLine – 1300 789 987
  • Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800
  • Qlife – 1800 184 527
To access professional mental health support in Gippsland, speak to your local doctor.
You can also call HeadtoHelp on 1800 595 212 or visit visit 

Change for Sam survey on Bass Coast

Change for Sam is a local initiative focused on prevention of family violence on Phillip Island and in Bass Coast, and advocating for improved and integrated delivery of family violence response services.
Change for Sam is currently undertaking an analysis of the Bass Coast service system to identify where it is possible to strengthen agency engagement and education. It is interested in the experiences of general practitioners and practice staff in:

  • identifying clients experiencing family violence
  • directing clients experiencing family violence to local response services
  • challenges in engaging with/contacting local response services
  • opportunities for additional training, information

With this in mind, Change for Sam invites practice staff from the Bass Coast Area (GPs, nurses, reception staff) to complete the follow survey which shouldn’t take much more than five minutes to complete:
The survey will close on Friday, 19 February 2021.
Should you have any questions or concerns, contact Change for Sam Coordinator, Teea Stepto at

Report released into access to sexual and reproductive health services

Over the past 12-18 months, Gippsland PHN has been working together with Gippsland Women’s Health, the Royal Women’s Hospital Clinical Champions Project, 1800MyOptions and local hospital and GP champions examining ways to increase access for women in Gippsland to timely and local abortion and contraception services.

Read the report below.


Strengthening support in palliative care across Gippsland

An electronic Telephone Triage Tool for use in palliative care is being rolled out in Gippsland to strengthen after-hours support.
In a project by the Gippsland Regional Palliative Care Consortium, in collaboration with Gippsland PHN and Monash Rural Health, this electronic tool is for use by primary care health professionals in both business and after-hours as a communication tool between the client, the nurse and GP.
The ‘Telephone Triage Tool for Primary Health’ is now ready for use with education and support being provided for health professionals to implement the tool into their systems and processes. This training will be provided virtually.
The project was initially developed by Catherine Duck and Irene Murphy in 2014 as a paper-based booklet. This year, the original tool was adapted into an accessible, electronic tool that supports decision-making for the generalist health professional in palliative care symptom management for clients in the after-hours time period.
The use of this tool aims to decrease unwanted variations in practice by increasing the consistency of response to palliative care symptom management in the after-hours period. This supports the generalist clinician and has the potential to reduce palliative care presentations to the Emergency Department and reduce the number of after- hours visits. 
In 2021, GRPCC will customise a Telephone Triage Tool for use in Residential Aged Care.
For more information on this project, contact Carol Barbeler or Leearna Earwicker (Project Worker) at the GRPCC on 5623 0684.
Gippsland PHN supports the use of technology to increase access to services. This is reflected in our strategic objectives, available on the Gippsland PHN website:
Gippsland PHN has identified health priorities relating to “Better Health Services”, including access to services, better use of technology and services working together. For more information about Gippsland PHN health priorities, go to:

Information on Eating Disorders Victoria - Gippsland Support Groups

Eating Disorders Victoria - Gippsland Online Support Groups have resumed for 2021. 
Bookings for Recovery Support groups can be made here:

Bookings for Carers Support groups can be made here:
You can find information about our EDV general support groups here:

Please see below flyers specific to each support group:
Gippsland Support Group - general
Gippsland Support Group - Recovery
Gippsland Support Group - Carers

Digital Health Specialist Toolkit

The Digital Health Specialist Toolkit is designed to provide resources that support the adoption of digital health by specialists and their teams in private practice.
This includes fact sheets, user and implementation guides, FAQ sheets and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) modules.
This toolkit was developed in support of the Digital Health Specialist Toolkit Steering Group with members representing the following organisations:
  • ​Australian Medical Association (AMA)
  • The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP)
  • The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS)
  • The Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSANZ)
  • Australian Association of Practice Management (AAPM)
  • The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM)
Go to to get started.

Australian Digital Health Agency update on implementation of electronic prescribing across Australia

The Australian Digital Health Agency is working with stakeholders on a staged national implementation of electronic prescribing (EP) with the functionality being made available to prescribers in progressive geographic tranches.
So far, the national roll-out has expanded to Victoria, South Australia, Australian Capital Territory and metropolitan Sydney, though many other areas are seeing active use of electronic prescriptions.
The Department of Health has changed legislation to require the inclusion of active ingredients on all PBS and RPBS prescriptions.
  • These mandatory Active Ingredient Prescribing (AIP) requirements came into force on 1 February 2021.
  • Prescribing software developers are now progressing AIP software updates in general practice.
  • These software updates will also be inclusive of EP functionality. This means EP capability is now.
To use EP, general practices will need to turn this capacity on for their prescribers. A consistent principle for EP has been that communication between local community pharmacies and local general practices is critical - this will ensure they are both ready to issue and dispense an electronic prescription.
 Practices should make the decision based on local knowledge of the readiness of the pharmacies in their area. 
Remember, a patient can always choose where their prescriptions are dispensed and whether the prescription is paper or electronic.

Useful links on electronic prescribing

Additional Information on electronic prescribing that may be useful.
  1. Department of Health  
  1. Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)
  2. Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
  3. NPS Medicinewise
  4. Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care
  5. Australian Digital Health Agency
Contact the Gippsland PHN Digital Health team at should you have any questions.

COVID-19  GP Snapshot 2 - Telehealth: Socioeconomic and demographic comparisons in the uptake of Telehealth services during COVID-19

This General Practice Snapshot is part of a Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre project -  'COVID-19 – utilising near real-time electronic General Practice data to establish effective care and best-practice policy'.

The project involves Macquarie University, Outcome Health, Gippsland, Eastern Melbourne and South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Networks and the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia Quality Assurance Programs with participation from Central and Eastern Sydney and South Western Sydney Primary Health Networks.

Diagnostic Informatics research team at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, has provided this second General Practice Snapshot highlighting socioeconomic and demographic comparisons in the uptake of telehealth services during COVID-19. This Snapshot is part of a series of reports the Centre will be releasing, aiming to identify emerging trends related to COVID-19, its diagnosis, treatment and impact on patients.

This Snapshot provides some key comparative findings related to differences in telehealth (phone and video) uptake based on demographic factors, including age, sex, socioeconomic status (SES), and regionality across participating Primary Health Networks in NSW and Victoria. It also draws out important implications of the findings, particularly as they relate to patients, general practice and the community.
Implications of this Snapshot include:
  • Females had a greater proportion of their consultations via telehealth services than males
  • F2F was highest in children and adolescents
  • Telehealth uptake was lower in low/mid SES groups
Future snapshots will deal with areas related to pathology testing, chronic disease, mental health and cancer screening.

Go to GP Snapshot 2 - Telehealth

Interactive webinar on digital health technologies

The Australian Digital Health Agency is hosting an interactive webinar focusing on digital health technologies for private specialists and practice staff, including My Health Record, telehealth, electronic prescribing and secure messaging.
A panel of experts will be fielding questions and discussing how digital health can enable improved decision support and continuity of care.
When:                  Tuesday, 16 February 2021, 7-8pm
Where:                 Online
Registration and more information

How POLAR data from general practice helps uncover answers to important research questions

The Diagnostic Informatics research team from the Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, describes in a webinar how it is using POLAR data from general practice to uncover answers to important research questions that were co-designed with Gippsland PHN.

This work is part of the Macquarie University Quality use of pathology in general practice project.
This 20 minute webinar aims to uncover indicators of quality use of pathology testing, and in doing so, highlight key areas where general practice clinicians can: improve their efficiency by targeting testing to specific groups of patients, modify their own practice, and create better value care for their patients in a precision-oriented way. Indicators presented include HbA1c testing in diabetes, prostate specific antigen screening, Vitamin D testing, and Ferritin for iron deficiency. 
Key learning objectives:
  • Recognise key indicators of quality pathology test use in general practice
  • Identify areas in which quality improvement is needed to offer higher value care
  • Reflect on potential reasons for variation
  • Reflect on the ways this may impact your behaviours in practice
Go to webinar
Download PDF of Slide Presentation.

Please click here to complete a brief (three minute) survey to fulfil CPD requirements and provide feedback.

If you have any questions on this research, please email Dr Rae-Anne Hardie or Prof Andrew Georgiou


National Cancer Screening Register: an update to provide greater access for healthcare providers

The National Cancer Screening Register’s Health Care Provider portal for National Bowel Screening and Cervical Screening is now live.

GPs and other health care providers are now able to order kits for eligible participants by logging into the NCSR’s HCP portal.

This portal will integrate with primary care practice management systems Best Practice and Medical Director in the near future to enable these providers secure online access to patient bowel and cervical screening information.

These channels have been developed to assist healthcare providers and practice staff to more-easily access patient’s bowel and cervical screening data, ensure their screening remains up-to-date and to support improved patient cancer screening outcomes.

There is communications tool kit available providing details of the Healthcare provider portal (insert link for the toolkit) available for GPs and other healthcare providers. Partners are encouraged to tailor key messages contained in the toolkit as required to suit target audiences. It is highly recommended by National Cancer Screening Register that GPs start conversations with their eligible patients to complete the NBCSP kit.

The new portal will enable healthcare providers to access online self-service capacity to manage their patients’ screening pathways. They will allow:
  • Healthcare providers to manage their patient’s participation in the National Cervical Screening Program (NCSP) and National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP), including opting out, deferring their screening, and ordering replacement free bowel screening test kits to their patient’s address.
  • Healthcare providers and pathologists to access screening information for participants of both the NCSP and NBCSP.
  • General practitioners and other specialists to lodge clinical forms relating to both programs electronically, removing the need to print, scan and fax to the National Register.
Additionally, a media article about the portal has recently been published.

Welcome to the Research Hub

Gippsland Primary Health Network’s vision is a measurably healthier Gippsland.

This section of our LINK newsletter provides articles on research being undertaken by Gippsland PHN and in collaboration with other organisations that are contributing to this vision. It will also feature research and studies from outside our region which may be of interest to our stakeholders.

For all things ‘research’ related, please email

Webinar on RACGP Academic Post Program

Have you considered applying for the RACGP Academic Post Program? A webinar on Tuesday 9 February will showcase GP research undertaken by participants of the RACGP Academic Post program, presented by the researchers.

Hosted by the RACGP REC-R (Research Expert Committee),  is a follow-on from a webinar you had previously registered for on 27 October 2020 – GP Research: what’s it all about?

Each presenter will provide a brief overview of their project and the highlights and challenges they encountered while conducting it. The presenting researchers will also participate in a Q&A session with the audience.

Those interested in engaging in GP research and curious others are invited to attend. If you are potentially interested in an Academic Post, this webinar will provide inspiration for possible projects.

Learning outcomes

  1. To showcase the research done by participants in the RACGP Academic Post program to raise the profile of GP research
  2. To raise awareness among GP registrars and interested others of the purpose of the RACGP Academic Post program and the possibilities of research projects
  3. To raise awareness of research undertaken by participants of the RCAGP Academic Registrar
  4. To raise awareness of how a career in GP research can enhance the career of interested GPs
Date: Tuesday 9 February 2021
Time: 7-8pm
Registration: Online


Anonymous survey on osteoporisis in regional Victoria

Monash University is inviting Gippsland general practitioners to take part in an anonymous survey on osteoporosis in regional Victoria with the aim to improve bone health for rural and regional Victorians.

Did you know that two in three Australians aged over 50 have reduced bone density; every 3.6 minutes, somebody breaks a hip; and Gippsland has 1.4 higher hip fracture rate than Melbourne.

The research team is seeking input from GPs about how to improve osteoporosis care for regional and rural Victorians including needs and barriers.
An anonymous online questionnaire lasting approximately 20 minutes. If interested, a telephone interview lasting 15-30 minutes at a time will be undertaken, convenient to GPs.
See more details in the flyer below.

Research priorities of people with inflammatory bowel disease, carers and healthcare professionals

Crohn’s & Colitis Australia (CCA) is working in collaboration with the James Lind Alliance of the UK to identify the “Top 10 research priorities of people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), carers and healthcare professionals”. 

CCA is seeking ideas and thoughts from people with different experiences and backgrounds. 

The first stage of this project involves a web-based survey to identify your most important research questions. The survey is open to people 16 years or older who suffer from IBD, their carers and healthcare professionals and will be available online until 28/02/2021. Further information and to complete the survey is available at  

The responses from the first stage will be checked against published research to identify those that remain unanswered.

A second survey will prioritise the questions and formulate a final list of the top 10 unanswered research questions. These will be shared with researchers and funders to encourage them to focus on the most urgent and relevant needs of people living with IBD.  

If you have any queries, please contact

Project explores the experiences of using Telehealth during coronavirus pandemic

General practitioners, nurses and allied health professionals working in primary care are being asked to share their experiences of using telehealth during COVID-19.

The project explores the implementation of telehealth during COVID-19 from the perspectives of these health professionals.

A collaborative research team from Bond University, the University of Wollongong, University of Notre Dame Australia and Sydney University, is conducting the survey.

The team appreciates the complexity and rapid upscaling of the telehealth scheme and the need to tell the story of primary care professionals to inform future policy in this area.

A brief survey seeks to explore how telehealth is being used, the barriers and facilitators, and lessons for the future. Data from the project will be used to inform policy and practice around telehealth use in general practice and community based care.

This study is being undertaken by Prof Mark Morgan & Prof Nick Zwar (Bond University), Dr Anna Willams (Notre Dame University), A/Prof Sarah Dennis (University of Sydney), and Prof Liz Halcomb (University of Wollongong).

Please complete this short 10 minute survey and share with colleagues working in primary care:

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