Australia describes success of dedicated general practice respiratory clinics during COVID-19 pandemic
In a special report published in The Annals of Family Medicine, Australian researchers describe the national rollout of General Practice Respiratory Clinics (GRPCs) at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March 2020, GPRCs were created in communities across Australia to divert individuals with respiratory illness away from mainstream general practice into an environment specifically designed to maximize infection prevention and control measures. This was also done to protect health care providers, patients, and their immediate contacts. Additionally, the clinics provided anonymized patient data for the Australian Government Department of Health for weekly surveillance reports, as well as for state and Commonwealth public health authorities and the Australian National COVID-19 Disease Surveillance plan.
The report describes the process for choosing GPRC sites. Additionally, it describes a customized respiratory clinic data collection app, which works as a mini-patient record, capturing clinical symptoms, physical exam findings, diagnosis, management and follow-up planning. By September 2020, 150 GPRCs had opened across the country. GPRCs demonstrated the ability for rapid scale-up in response to COVID-19 cases in a specific area and could be integrated with other health and community services.
This is the first time that this type of model has been used in Australia. It recognizes and formalizes the key role of GPs in pandemic response, providing a level of integration the researchers say is long overdue for primary care.