We recently talked to Dr Justine Lancaster from HealthPathways about how the organisation supported, and still supports, GPs and primary care workers during COVID-19. 

Before getting into COVID-19 details, Justine gave us a brief overview of HealthPathways and her role. 

“The HealthPathways Community provides localised clinical pathways accessible across the whole country (Hawke’s Bay is the latest health jurisdiction to enable access to COVID-19 pathways for their local GPs). There are 11 regional sites in New Zealand, 32 in Australia, and three sites in the United Kingdom. As a community, we have long been collaborating on areas of common importance, creating shared pathways that are then adapted to reflect local service delivery variations,” says Justine.

HealthPathways was praised for being “the clearest place to get everything you want” about managing patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, by Dr. Tanya Robertson in an interview with the Australian Department of Health, Thursday 23 April 2020.

“As the Regional Group Clinical Advisor (RGCA) for New Zealand, I have been working to develop and encourage improved collaboration, coordination, and efficiency in this process. However, with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, these efforts needed to be escalated.

“Our Australia-New Zealand RGCA strategy workshop was held 6 March (while there were two cases in New Zealand and 57 in Australia) and this turned into a COVID-19 response package development project.

“In the chaotic storm of COVID-19 information, our aim was and still is to get up to date and easy to use information regarding response plans and clinical guidance to GPs and their teams at point of care. We have been actively liaising with national bodies (including various Technical Advisory Groups and the College), local DHBs, and PHOs to communicate key changes to general practice and to provide feedback on when things ‘aren't workable’ at the front line.”

“Initially the work was around providing clear guidance for assessment and management of COVID-19 suspect cases, key links to reliable information, developing guidance for preparing models of care, and advice around changes of delivery of care for staff and patients (including guidance on telehealth consultations ). Subsequently, pathways have been developed for secondary impacts such as care of COVID-19 patients in the community, palliative care, assessment and management of children, and the primary care alert response framework.”

“In the chaotic storm of COVID-19 information, our aim was and still is to get up to date and easy to use information regarding response plans and clinical guidance to GPs and their teams at point of care.
“We also collaborated on urgent messages regarding clinical care (such as issues with drug supplies, or implications of medical management during COVID-19) in the form of Clinical Editor Notes applied to the relevant pathways. These are often developed by one local HealthPathways team and shared unchanged across the national network. The teams across New Zealand meet regularly to coordinate our pathway development, share ideas, and problem solve to help deliver the most reliable, best quality product for users.”

“What do GPs need to know at this stage? HealthPathways has an ongoing community response to COVID-19. We need to proactively manage any clusters that might appear in our local community. We also need clear advice about our new practice for infection and control, and clear guidance around respiratory illness. We are working hard right now to ensure the advice that is coming is practical in terms of our workforce capacity as well. Stay tuned to the website for more!” 

Final messages from Justine,

“HealthPathways is written by GPs, for GPs. It relies on your feedback to ensure primary care information is relevant, usable, and up to date so please use the "send feedback" button on our website to improve this service. If you are already familiar with HealthPathways and want to know ‘what's changed recently?’ you can visit our COVID-19 Recent Changes page. If you are unclear on a local process for getting things done, check the COVID-19 Requests and Local Processes page. 

“On a final note, the mobile version of the HealthPathways website is now available (click on the green banner at top of the site). This is handy when you’re working off-site (e.g. at a CBAC or ARC facility).”