With COVID-19 cases rising in the community, GPs may be asked to care for their own COVID-19 positive patients who are assessed to be low risk as part of the COVID-19 Positive Care Pathways program.
The COVID-19 positive pathways are a Victorian state-wide program for the assessment and management of COVID positive patients. They have been designed to provide safe, high quality care, including community-based care for low risk COVID-19 positive patients, with escalation mechanisms to higher levels of care if required. Patients who test positive to COVID-19 are triaged and allocated to one of the following groups:
- Low risk patients are defined in the model as those who have no or mild symptoms and no risk factors. These patients are cared for by GPs using telehealth.
- Medium risk patients are being cared for by the Hospital in the Home (HITH) programs of the health services.
- High risk patients are cared for by the local hospitals.
The Victorian Department of Health has provided a fact sheet for referrers that contains more information about the program plus contact details for the intake and assessment services across Victoria. This may be useful if you become aware of a COVID-19 positive patient and need to confirm if they are in a care pathway.
Key points on managing COVID-19 Positive Patients:
- You will be contacted by a local health network notifying you of a COVID-19 positive patient who has been assessed as low risk.
- Ensure you have access to and are familiar with HealthPathways Melbourne (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for access).
- You will be required to make telehealth appointments with the patient every second day, or more if clinically required for the duration the patient is on the pathway (14 days).
- There are escalation pathways for each of the local health networks – this information along with information on assessment and management are all listed on HealthPathways Melbourne.
- COVID positive patients are exempt from the “established patient relationship” MBS billing rule. General Practitioners will not be in violation for using telehealth and/or telephone item numbers for assessing patients who have been directed to isolate or quarantine under State and Territory public health orders. Refer to COVID-19 MBS Items on HealthPathways Melbourne.
If you have questions about the pathway process, please contact COVIDresponse@emphn.org.au.