GP Liaison Officers (GPLOs) play a pivotal role in the healthcare system, acting as a bridge between general practice and hospitals.
GPLOs work to improve the patient journey, identify service gaps, and facilitate appropriate clinical pathways. And so, we wanted to explore the role of GPLOs, their impact on healthcare, and some of the initiatives they have been involved in.
The Role of GPLOs
GPLOs are healthcare professionals who work to enhance the connection between general practice and hospitals. They are often involved in various projects, and their work can range from strategic to specific. Their primary focus is on improving the transfer of care and communication between primary and secondary care. GPLOs work closely with clinicians across different environments, receiving feedback that helps identify gaps and solve practical problems. They also collaborate with non-clinical hospital and PHN staff, contributing to the interconnectedness of the health system and quality improvement.
The Impact of GPLOs
GPLOs have made significant contributions to the healthcare system. They have been important for major initiatives, such as GP Smart Referrals, GP access to the Health Provider Portal, HealthPathways, and new models of care such as hospital GPs with Special Interest (GPSIs). They also provide clinical handover workshops and help to organize interprofessional education opportunities. GPLOs can also be members of hospital committees tasked with quality improvements or clinical governance related to the transfer of care, communicating for safety, or collaborative care initiatives.
GPLOs have been involved in various initiatives aimed at improving patient care. Some of these include:
Collaborative COVID-19 Response: Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, a collaborative effort was made by GPLOs, the QGPL Network, and Queensland HealthPathways Coordinators. They created a range of clinical tools and communication strategies, all based on evidence to provide support to GPs, HHS, and PHNs.
Digital GP Education: The pandemic led to a disruption in traditional, face-to-face medical education events. With the support of GPLOs, Children’s Health Queensland launched the virtual knowledge sharing model, Project ECHO. This initiative not only solidified a relationship with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) but also built upon the success of the annual Paediatric Masterclass for General Practice through the delivery of the RACGP’s webinar series.
GP Advice Program: The GP Advice Program is designed to foster stronger relationships between specialists and GPs. It achieves this by giving GPs access to specialist advice, which aids in community-based patient care and reduces the need for low-value hospital visits, thereby also reducing waiting times.
Standardised Health Assessments for Children in Out-of-Home Care: A joint initiative by GPLOs, GPs, and Children’s Health Queensland led to the development and implementation of standardised health assessment templates for children living in out-of-home care.
Special Interest GPs: Under the leadership of GPLOs, the GPSI program has been successfully rolled out in the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service and other parts of Queensland since 2018. With ongoing support from Clinical Excellence Queensland, the program continues to grow.
The work of GPLOs is person-centric and improves individual patient care and surrounding network. They succeed best where there are collaborative partnerships between general practice, HHSs, and PHNs. The support from Queensland Health, especially the Healthcare Improvement Unit, as well as PHNs, means the QGPL Network can continue to facilitate initiatives and grow the work GPLOs do to better connect our health care system.