ACRRM offers free eHealth course

4 minute read

ACRRM is offering all GPs and practice staff a free course on using the power of digital tools


The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine is offering all GPs and practice staff a free course on using the power of digital tools to strengthen chronic-disease management in a program backed by the digital health agency. 

ACRRM’s director of Strategy and Development, Vicki Sheedy, said the course was designed to give GPs, nurses and practice staff a structure for employing the various available forms of eHealth to raise the quality of care and improve patients’ experience. 

“In terms of content, it has an emphasis on rural and remote practice – a setting where there are very few specialists, limited numbers of allied health professionals and an increased respect for and reliance on practices nurses,” Ms Sheedy told The Medical Republic. 

“In terms of approach, it is designed for people who are time poor. Rural doctors tend to be busier because there are fewer of them, so we have designed the course in chunks that can be completed in one hour. That being said, it’s relevant to any general practice team.”  

In less than a week, about 60 practices enrolled in the first intake of the self-paced online course, which is open to a limited number of non-ACRRM members and practice staff. Certificates of completion will be provided to non-ACRRM members for CPD reporting, although RACGP accreditation has not been sought. 

On completing the course, participants are expected to have strategies and practice-based protocols to support use of the My Health Record for patients with chronic conditions.  

Elements include devising a plan to build integrated teams around patients; engage practice teams in improvement activities; share information via MyHR; and offer systematic care for high-need patients through a continuous quality improvement cycle.  

Practical aspects include guidance to set up systems for using MyHR for targeted groups of patients, establishing compliance with new ePIP requirements and readying a practice for Health Care Home arrangements.  

“The e-health approach is based on the assumption that care is better if it is connected,” Ms Sheedy said. “So, if you are going to use MyHR, do it systematically; choose your patients well and do it with a view to helping them have a better experience of care.” 

“E-health is not a big component, but it’s the glue that sticks it together,” she said, adding the course did not assume high-level expertise in eHealth.  

“A whole resource section was written for clinicians who are not IT types.” 

The course takes the view that sharing information via the MyHR benefits patients by giving them, their carers and families access to the information.  Another other emphasis is using telehealth to bring in expert advice.  

ACRRM said the current rush of healthcare policy reviews and reforms – including the new ePIP and the Health Care Homes trials –  presented an ideal opportunity to advance best clinical practice and outcomes enabled by eHealth. 

“The approach is based within a model of shared care and made viable by eHealth arrangements targeting a priority group – patients in underserved rural and remote regions of Australia,” ACRRM President Associate Professor Ruth Stewart said.  

The benefits of eHealth tools including the MyHR, point-of-care testing , self-monitoring devices and telehealth, had not yet been fully realised, but the case for doing so was “most compelling” in remote and regional communities, she said. 

The clinical team behind the course was led by Dr Ewen McPhee, president of the Rural Doctors of Australia, advised by Dr Steve Hambleton, chair of the Primary Health Care Advisory Group, who has recently taken a senior advisory role at the Australian Digital Health Agency.  

Applications are being received at: 

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