Just call your GP?

An exasperated doctor talking on the phone.
  15 February 2022  Dr Jeannie Knapp, GP and Primary Health Care Improvement GP Adviser, NWMPHN   

Strategies to manage the huge number of calls from COVID positive patients to general practices.

We’ve all seen, in a very short space of time, a sudden increase in the volume of calls from COVID positive patients to general practice.

This was partly driven by misleading advice from the Prime Minister who said that people should respond to a positive rapid antigen test result by calling their GP. However, the sheer number of positive cases in the Omicron wave has also caused a huge spike in demand.

A significant percentage of these are lower risk patients who are suitable for self-management or GP management at home.

To manage and reduce the huge number of phone calls, your practice team could:

  • consider an SMS or email campaign to your patient base providing some education and guidance on what to do if you are COVID-19 positive. including how to escalate care. You could include links to resources such as the Victorian Government’s checklist COVID cases, healthdirect advice, the RACGP guide for patients, or this helpful blog post by GP Dr Wendy Burton
  • change your telephone hold message so patients know that they only need to contact you if they are wanting to book an appointment or are concerned about their symptoms
  • discuss with your reception team about ways to filter the calls. Have reception try to distinguish between who is “just letting us know” and those who actually need an appointment.
  • put a message on your website and social media channels with links to the above resources. Digital tiles are available on the Victorian Government website to help you share the message.

HealthPathways Melbourne

Visit the COVID-19 Assessment and Management pages on Health Pathways Melbourne for an easy-to-follow guide to help you manage your patients efficiently.

Are you a GP or health professional in our region who doesn’t have access to HealthPathways Melbourne? Request access online or contact info@healthpathwaysmelbourne.org.au

More information

Primary care providers: if you have questions about the support we can provide, please contact North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network on (03) 9347 1188 or email primarycare@nwmphn.org.au