Flu :: New web tool preparing GPs for flu outbreak

A new online simulation to help GPs prepare their practice for a pandemic influenza outbreak has been launched today by a research team based at The Australian National University.

The Pandemic Influenza Simulation Exercise for General Practice takes GPs and their staff through a pandemic influenza situation, providing insight into how a pandemic could affect the operation of their practice.

Dr Christopher Pearce, a Melbourne GP who led the development of the Internet exercise, said it was an easy and effective tool to plan for the inevitable pandemic.

He said GPs will be forced to work very differently in the face of an outbreak ? taking in-car consultations so non-flu patients are not exposed to the virus in the waiting room, doing more home visit care, and telephone consultations.

?GPs are prepared to work through disaster situations, but doing an exercise like this one gives them an opportunity to think about the best-practice response in an unusual situation, like what you would do when half your staff are at home caring for sick relatives,? he said.

Dr Pearce said GPs are often ill-informed about pandemic influenza planning because it is done at a state healthcare level, often with little general practice consultation, though through the research work of this team this is starting to change.

The module was based on emergency services planning processes and can be completed in the surgery with other members of staff in a short amount of time.

Dr Pearce said this module shows Australia leading the way in taking a practice-based approach to planning for disasters.

The development of the module has also led to broader disaster planning involvement by GPs in their community in the Whitehorse and ACT Divisions of General Practice.

The module was developed as part of an NHMRC rapid response grant on pandemic influenza, which is based at ANU.

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