Top workflow frustrations of today’s GPs
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Top workflow frustrations of today’s GPs

Demand for GPs continues to rise in Australia, but workflow barriers are continuing to frustrate practitioners and prevent efforts to boost efficiency while maintaining a patient-centric approach.

A recent report from the Productivity Commission found a growing demand for GPs in the Australian community, with the Australian Medical Association stressing the Federal Government is not providing enough investment to support general practice. Meanwhile on top of the increase in patient demand and government funding pressures, mounting workflow inefficiencies continue to fuel further frustrations for busy practitioners trying to keep up with the pace of patient demand.

Communication barriers between healthcare professionals and institutions

Dr Charlotte Middleton, GP and Chief Medical Advisor at MedicalDirector says her number one workflow frustration as a GP would be the lack of communication between healthcare professionals and institutions, because it causes delays and makes it difficult to manage the patient appropriately.

“I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve had a patient come to me after a hospital admission and I still don’t have the hospital discharge,” she says. “And it could be two weeks after the patient has been discharged from hospital. Then it takes time having to chase it up and then have it faxed through, which all takes time – and meanwhile my patient consult time is being taken up. This happens every single day.”

Increased administrative burdens

The burdens of administrative paperwork also impacts GP workflow, and the hours all add up, cutting in on valuable patient consultation time.

“GPs spend at least six hours a week on admin alone,” Dr. Middleton says. “There’s constantly some paperwork that needs filling in and I feel that instead of getting easier every year it is getting worse. And when you’ve done a back to back day of seeing patients, then you have to fit in hours of admin work, it can become very frustrating, tiring and stressful.”

Archaic, legacy workflow systems

Fax, paper and outdated workflow systems are another major frustration, and with fax still as one of the main methods of communication between all healthcare professionals, Middleton agrees the status quo is simply absurd in the age of technology.

“Most of the world does not operate like that, yet our healthcare system does – and we’re all communicating that way,” Dr. Middeldon adds. “And again, it’s so frustrating the number of times I get calls from a reception saying they didn’t get that fax. This happens at least a few times a day. It interrupts my flow with a patient, because I’ll get a knock on the door, and it’s just so time consuming.”

Solutions offering workflow relief

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Medical software solutions have come a long way, and Middleton highlights cloud-based solutions like Helix are trying to bridge that gap.

“The more automated services we put into place, like streamlining bookings, automated reminders, systems that automatically text patients, solutions like HotDoc– all of these can help a lot,” she says. “We need to digitise our records more and think about increasing our interoperability between healthcare professionals and institutions.”