GPs will receive secure messaging notifications about medium risk COVID positive pathway patients in Melbourne’s north east from 27 January 2022

  24 January 2022  NWMPHN

From Thursday, 27 January 2022, GPs will receive secure messaging notifications when they have a patient classified as ‘medium risk’ in the North East Metro Health Service Partnership COVID Positive Pathways (C+P) program – if the individual consents to share this information with their GP.

This is a pilot program rolling out in the area, conducted by Healthdirect Australia with the support of the state and federal Departments of Health, North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) and Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network (EMPHN).

The notification is not a GP referral. The patient will be cared for by a hospital health service until they are discharged. There are no further actions required from GPs once the notification has been received.

Secure messaging notifications will enable continuation of care from the GP once the individual has been discharged from the COVID Positive Pathways (C+P) program.

Who will this change affect?

This change will affect GPs with patients in the Medium Care Pathway of the North East Metro Health Service Partnership C+P program only.

Medium risk patients are those receiving in-home monitoring and/or care from a hospital program, such as Hospital in the Home (HITH) or Hospital Admission Risk Program (HARP). More information on risk stratification is available in the Victorian Department of Health fact sheet (.pdf) and on HealthPathways Melbourne.

The North East Metro Health Service Partnership C+P program is overseen by the North East Health Services Partnership and cover the catchments of Austin Health, Northern Health, Eastern Health and St Vincent’s Health. More information on the various COVID Positive Pathways in Victoria is available on our website, in the fact sheet for referrers (.pdf) and the catchment map.

This change will not affect any of the other Victorian C+P programs, including West Metro or South East Metro Health Service Partnership C+P programs. The process for GPs with patients in these pathways is not changing at this time, whilst the pilot tests the secure messaging process.

About secure messaging

Secure messaging allows health care providers to send and receive sensitive and confidential clinical information using an encrypted system. It is usually integrated in your practice’s clinical software. More information is available on our website and on the Australian Digital Health Agency website.  

Healthdirect Australia has the details of practices using secure messaging and you will receive notifications in your secure messaging system direct to your practice software.

Please make sure you know how to access secure messaging in your clinical software. Helpful guides are available on the Train IT Medical website.

Is your practice not using secure messaging?

To ensure patient privacy, practices who do not have secure messaging will not receive notifications about their patients through other channels.

We strongly encourage all practices to implement secure messaging. Please contact us by email to primarycare@nwmphn.org.au or phone (03) 9347 1188 if you need assistance to get started.

MBS billing

Please note the secure messaging notification is not a referral and no action is required from GPs. The following is extra information about MBS billing only.

GPs cannot bill Medicare for services provided to hospital COVID-19 inpatients (including HITH, remote monitoring and HARP patients).

Medicare can be billed for patients who are otherwise in public care if the patient makes a decision to receive a private, Medicare-funded service in addition to public care. However, it is expected that such services would not generally be related to the reason for their public care admission, assuming that is COVID-19. 

Visit MBS Online for more information on billing.

Why is this change taking place?

The aim of the Victorian C+P program is to actively manage the care of COVID positive individuals through an assessment process which includes digital triaging. Patients are assigned into self-care (this is prior to C+P care pathway allocation), low care, medium care or high care pathways to receive the appropriate level of care that they require.

At present, many GPs are not aware when they have a patient in the North East Metro Health Service Partnership C+P program. This means that they do not know these patients’ risk stratification, or to which care level they have been assigned.  

Healthdirect Australia and the Victorian and Australian Departments of Health are seeking to address this issue by using secure messaging to notify GPs when a medium risk patient is allocated to the pathways, assuming the patient consents to share.  

Healthdirect is developing a national model of assessment and notification for COVID positive patients. The results from this pilot will inform the development of the national model.

Questions and feedback 

NWMPHN and EMPHN are continuing to advocate for better integration of general practice in the Victorian C+P program. We are seeking to confirm further details about phase 2 of this pilot project.

If you have questions or feedback about this pilot project, please contact primarycare@nwmphn.org.au

More information

For more information about the Victorian C+P program please visit: