Inala Primary Care deploys iPad for community health assessments

Inala Primary Care (IPC) is using Apple iPads to mobilise its practice nurse workforce, enabling patients eligible for Medicare claimable Health Assessments to undergo preliminary review in their own home.

Cathy Brown, CEO of the not-for‑profit practice in Brisbane’s South West said the innovative arrangements came about in May of this year as a result of a lack of available consulting rooms on certain days of the week.

"On Tuesdays, we run the Brisbane South Complex Diabetes Service and the place is just buzzing. Although we have 11 consulting rooms, on Tuesday morning we have 12 bodies wanting to use those rooms. The solution? One of our practice nurses goes on the road and completes the nurse component of the 75 year and over Health Assessments in the homes of our patients using an iPad. She remotely connects into the practice and is able to complete all nursing aspects of the health assessment along with a follow up appointment with the GP."

While there are numerous remote access solutions that allow iPad users to connect to and control a desktop computer, IPC settled on PocketCloud Pro, which is available for under $10 from the Apple App Store. Once logged in using the iPad, nurses from IPC are able to interact with the clinic’s installation of Best Practice, despite the fact this clinical software runs natively on Microsoft Windows platforms.

"I don’t know of any other practices doing this. The GPs that I know that work in other practices around us are amazed that we are using an iPad to link back to software that isn’t running on an Apple platform," says Ms Brown.

IPC purchased their iPad with a protective cover that incorporated a Bluetooth keyboard into its design, however after trialling the third-party accessory, the nurses have reverted to using the iPad's ‘on screen’ keyboard and a stylus for data entry.

"We’ve found that because of the way Best Practice has setup their templates, a lot of the data entry is just ticking, so instead of using the Bluetooth keyboard, we use the on screen keyboard as required and a stylus, and it’s really fast."

Practice nurses from IPC are typically able to perform six or seven patient reviews in the community per day, which Ms Brown says is providing greater insight into the patients living arrangements than would be possible in a typical consultation conducted in the practice.

"Every Tuesday the nurse goes out and does these health assessments in the home, which gives us a much clearer picture of the patients' conditions and surroundings as well."

In addition to gaining a more complete picture of their patients' healthcare requirements, Ms Brown believes the convenience offered to patients is seen as a major benefit.

"Patients just love this service as they do not have to spend extended time in the practice seeing the nurse and then their GP after. For the elderly people we have coming into the practice, for them to come in and sit for 45 minutes with a nurse and then to have to go back to the waiting room and sit for another 15 minutes to half an hour, only to have to sit for 20 minutes with a doctor, it’s just too long a day for them, especially as most have to catch buses to and from the practice just to be here. Under the new arrangements, the patients just pop in and see the doctor and off they go again."

Posted in Australian eHealth

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