10 minimum standards for medical forms
The AMA has developed a guide outlining 10 minimum standards that should apply to forms that medical practitioners are asked to complete by organisations such as Centrelink, the Department of Veterans' Affairs, and State and Territory WorkCover Authorities.
AMA Vice President, Dr Stephen Parnis, said that medical forms are required by certain organisations to determine patient entitlements, but they should not create a red tape headache for doctors.
"The AMA believes that medical forms can be designed in a way that captures the necessary information in a more simple and concise way," Dr Parnis said.
"Our Guide can help organisations design forms that do not impose unnecessary red tape and compliance costs on busy doctors.
"We understand that organisations depend heavily upon the accurate completion of medical forms to determine patient entitlements.
"The key is to focus on obtaining necessary information that is easily accessible, and which does not require doctors and medical practices spending excessive time filling in forms.
"Unfortunately, many organisations fail to appreciate the real time implications for doctors having to complete these forms. Doctors prefer spending time on patient care, not bureaucracy.
"Inefficiencies and excessive red tape can become a heavy burden on doctors, diverting their time away from providing essential medical care for patients."
In 2011, the AMA conducted a survey of red tape in general practice, which found completing Centrelink forms, completing third party/WorkCover requirements, and completing Department of Veterans' Affairs forms were ranked among the top six areas of 'red tape headache'.
To help address these issues, and in recognition of the need for greater clarity and use of standardised electronic forms, the AMA has developed the 10 Minimum Standards for Medical Forms Guide, which is available at https://ama.com.au/article/10-minimum-standards-medical-forms
The 10 standards are based upon principles that seek to ensure that the forms are available and accessible, the doctor's time is valued, the forms are not onerous, privacy is respected, and the process is easy to administer.
The standards are intended to instruct, guide, and measure the performance of organisations that rely upon doctors to assist the effective conduct of their business or programs.
The AMA acknowledges the input of AMA Victoria (AMAV) in producing this Guide, which has been adapted from a similar publication prepared by AMAV.
The 10 Minimum Standards are:
Available & accessible
- The form is available in an electronic format that is compatible with existing electronic general practice medical records software.
- Forms are distributed through medical software vendors. Access to forms does not require web surfing during consultations, nor form-filling online.
Value GP time
- The form has a clear notation that states that medical practitioners may charge a reasonable fee for their services and whether the services are rebatable by Medicare or other insurers.
Not onerous & respect privacy
- Demographic and medical data can be selected to automatically populate the electronic form with adequate space being provided for comments.
- Only information essential for the purpose is requested and must not unnecessarily intrude upon patient privacy.
- Forms do not require the doctor to supply information when a patient can reasonably provide this in their own right.
Easy to administer
- A copy is saved in the patient electronic medical file for future reference.
- Data file storage size is kept to a minimum.
- Prior to their release, forms are field tested under the auspices of a recognised medical representative organisation such as the AMA and the RACGP, in association with the MSIA (Medical Software Industry Association).
- Consideration should be given to future compliance with encrypted electronics transmission capability, in line with new technologies being introduced into general practice.