Innovative primary health care at the frontline on show at the Gold Coast

Innovative primary health care at the frontline on show at the Gold Coast

11 November 2013

The future of diabetes care and chronic disease management in Australia is very much about the future of frontline care through Medicare Locals, Australias new system for primary health care.

On World Diabetes Day Nov 14, primary health care advocates will be convening at the AML Alliance National Primary Health Care Conference at the Gold Coast to discuss the latest in care coordination at the frontline, much of which relates to diabetes care.

AML Alliance Chair Dr Arn Sprogis said the frontline work Medicare Locals are doing is about improving population health nation-wide especially for people with complex conditions.
The latest information from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Diabetes Australia and Australian Indigenous HealthinfoNet tells us that:
Currently 4.2% of Australians population or nearly a million people are battling type 1 & type 2 diabetes. Current trends show that by 2025 that rate will increase to 3 million for those over the age of 25;
further to that, just over 7 million people are managing at least one chronic disease (the most common being diabetes, arthritis and depression) and more than half of all preventable hospital episodes are due to chronic diseases; and
in 2004-2008, Indigenous people died from diabetes at almost seven times the rate of non-Indigenous people.

These lifestyle conditions need integrated care which can be achieved through the work of general practitioners and allied health care professionals at the frontline, coordinated through Medicare Locals, Dr Sprogis said.

At this years two-day conference a number of innovative programs and insights into how best to manage chronic disease, will be examined to showcase the difference organised primary health care can make, and include:

The right time, the right path Chronic disease pathway project
Shape Up! Health coaching via social media
Prevalence and predictors of preventive care delivery by community health clinicians
Supporting people to make healthy choices and maintain good health and wellbeing
A collaborative approach to multidisciplinary diabetes care
Diabetes clinic in a rural and remote area: A partnership approach
A targeted and integrated approach to fostering capacity in Diabetes Management in Western Sydney


The conference will also explore the capacity of primary health care in this country and the concepts around healthy communities and population health measures that are making inroads into improvements for Australias health system to keep people well and out of hospital.

AML Alliance National Conference
Gold Coast Convention Centre

14 & 15 November

A snapshot of the work Medicare Locals are doing across the country:

Northern Melbourne ML has a community awareness campaign for local after-hours health services, including a web page nmml.org.au/GPfinder, with a mobile app in development.

Support for Parkinsons disease patients, their families and their GPs has been boosted with the Parkinsons Support Nurse at Murrumbidgee ML

Darling Downs South West Qld ML is providing funding for a new After Hours nurse for Toowoombas 7 Day Medicare Centre to assist with triaging patients and making the doctors workloads a little easier

Sunshine Coast ML has provided free mental health services to the people of Gympie following the 2012 and 2013 floods

Waiting times to see a psychiatrist in the Eurobodalla have been dramatically reduced thanks to a telehealth psychiatry service set up by Southern NSW ML using Medical Specialist Outreach Assistance Program funding.

Northern Adelaide ML is raising awareness and training general practitioners and practice nurses to provide care to newly arrived refugees, as well as launching a Community Project Worker to provide community development, health education and literacy to refugee populations

Goldfields-Midwest ML and Country North SA ML have employed a highly experienced remote area nurse to work in the three Aboriginal communities that straddle the SA and WA border, providing care co-ordination for people with chronic diseases in Yalata, Oak Valley and Tjuntjuntjara and supporting local health workers.

The Western NSW ML Care Coordinator, Orange AMS and Local Health District are working together to plan better coordination of services for people requiring medical aids such as Continuous Positive Air Pressure machines which help people at night keep their airways open and stop apnoea attacks.

A mobile general practice called StreetDoctor that takes primary health care services directly to the most vulnerable people on the streets of Perths inner city and eastern suburbs through the Perth Central & East ML.

Barwon ML recently launched HealthPathways, an online, central source of health services information, providing condition specific information on assessment, management and local referral options for GP use during consultation. HealthPathways has been jointly developed by local GPs, Specialists and other primary care providers and promises to revolutionise information and communication flow across the Barwon health system.

In partnership with Country Health SA, Country South SA ML is trialling a Nurse Practitioner model of care in Pinnaroo, where videophone technology is being used by patients to get access to a GP, supported out of Loxton.

Gold Coast ML has reduced hospital admissions this winter by 25 per cent for selected patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, with improved primary healthcare support, through their general practitioner and improved access to specialist medical and multidisciplinary screening, assessment and treatment.