In a welcome move, GPs will no longer be left in the dark after referring patients to the federal government’s My Aged Care system.
Under changes adopted on July 3, referring doctors can keep track of their patients’ progress, including which organisation is doing an assessment, their contact details, and the services that have been referred or commenced.
With a patient’s consent, a GP can also provide information to streamline the referral to an assessor via a webform, fax, or over the phone. A patient does not have to be present when a doctor makes a referral by phone, but the doctor must have their consent.
If the referral information is complete, it will be sent directly to an assessment organisation without the My Aged Care contact centre needing to call the patient.
The revamp is in response to complaints that the My Aged Care gateway – the sole avenue for GP aged-care referrals – gave doctors no way of knowing what had happened to their patients after the referral.
Amy Richards, of the Health Department’s policy and design section, said the improved access to information applied equally to health professionals who had made a referral and those yet to make one.
“That is so we can re-establish the links between assessors and health professionals that existed pre-My Aged Care,” Ms Richards told a recent webinar.
Among the changes, doctors can now call My Aged Care to see what aged-care services and approvals a patient may already have in place.
Health practitioners would also find it easier to add information about a referral if client circumstances changed, a Health Department spokeswoman said.
In the week after the improvements went “live”, however, GPs were yet to be informed about the good news.
The Medical Republic was unable to find a single doctor or organisation who knew anything about the new procedures last week, but some reported a letter had turned up today.
In other significant changes, patients will have more flexibility in appointing a representative to help them navigate the My Aged Care system.
A new “appointment of representative” form can be sent to the My Aged Care contact centre by fax or mail, or can be attached to a webform referral.
Anyone, including a service provider, could be a “regular” representative for a patient who was capable of giving consent for someone to speak on their behalf and make decisions, department officials told a recent webinar.
The patient could give their consent by using the form, speaking to the contact centre or informing their assessor at the time of the assessment.
“However, if a consumer is not able to make decisions for themselves or are unable to provide consent for someone to speak for them, then they’ll need to have an authorised representative put in place, and legal documents are required,” Ms Richards said.