The Australian Government is investing $220 million in grants to support general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs). This funding is for eligible recipients to make improvements to expand patient access and support safe and accessible quality primary care.
North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) is administering this program for all eligible general practices in its region. The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation is administering the program for all eligible ACCHOs. You can find information on the grants and how to apply on our website.
What can the grants be used for?
A one-off grant is available to each participating practice to invest in innovation, training, equipment, and minor capital works in one or more of these 3 investment streams:
- Enhancing digital health capability – to fast-track the benefits of a more connected health care system to meet future standards.
- Upgrading infection prevention and control arrangements – to support the safe, face-to-face assessment of patients with symptoms potentially indicating infectious respiratory diseases such as COVID-19 and influenza.
- Maintaining or achieving accreditation against the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Standards for General Practices (5th Edition) – to promote quality and safety under the National General Practice Accreditation Scheme.
Practices can fund activities to best address their needs.
The Quick Reference Guide for general practices includes some suggestions for how practices may utilise the grants.
Here are some additional ideas.
Some ideas for practice grants
Stream 1: Enhancing digital health capability – to fast-track the benefits of a more connected health care system to meet future standards.
A non-computerised practice, or one with limited computerisation, could:
- Engage an IT consultant to help with planning and set-up, such as advising what hardware, software, networking cabling, servers, or back-ups are needed.
- Purchase hardware and software.
- Reimburse for staff time used for developing policies and procedures for establishing secure messaging, and downloads for pathology or radiology.
All practices could develop policies, procedures and training for the use of:
- electronic prescribing
- e-requesting for pathology and radiology
- video telehealth
- setting up online booking for appointments
- setting up electronic registration forms for patients
Is your practice paperless? If not, you might consider:
- setting up secure messaging
- setting up secure messaging referrals to specialists and pathology or radiology rather than hard copy printing
- saying for additional staff time to set up systems, policies and procedures and provide training.
Invest in digital tools to use technology to improve processes and outcomes for patients. These could include digital:
- shared care planning tools
- support tools for patient self-management and self-assessment
- support tools for patient engagement and access to records or results
Some more digital health ideas:
- Ensure your practice can access and upload to My Health Record, by investing in set up and training.
- Purchase and install webcams, speakers and other infrastructure for video telehealth appointments.
- Create a digital presence, such as a website, to improve patient access.
Stream 2: Upgrading infection prevention and control arrangements – to support the safe, face-to-face assessment of patients with symptoms potentially indicating infectious respiratory diseases such as COVID-19 and influenza.
Here are some possible actions:
- Do an infection control audit then use funds to make improvements.
- Get a ventilation audit done and purchase any recommended new equipment.
- Purchase air purifiers.
- Build or modify an existing outdoor space to use as a waiting area for respiratory patients.
- Set up doffing and donning stations.
- Purchase additional waste disposal containers.
- Purchase and install screens at reception to reduce droplet transmission.
Stream 3: Maintaining or achieving accreditation against the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Standards for General Practices (5th Edition) – to promote quality and safety under the General Practice Accreditation Scheme.
Unaccredited practices could:
- Engage a practice management consultant to audit what would be required to become accredited.
- Purchase new equipment required for accreditation, such as high-low beds, automated external defibrillators, and autoclaves. A full list of equipment needed to achieve RACGP accreditation can be found here.
- Engage other services required to meet accreditation standards, such as waste management.
- Subscribe to an accreditation support service, or an online accreditation support business.
Accredited practices could:
- Purchase additional equipment needed since your last accreditation.
- Pay for additional staff time for nurses and practice managers to manage the accreditation process.