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Evaluation of HealthPathways: a catalyst for system reform

Current inefficiencies in the co-ordination and integration of primary and secondary care services, has led to increases in: waiting times; unnecessary presentations to emergency departments and issues around poor discharge of patients.

HealthPathways (HPW) an intervention, developed in Canterbury New Zealand, is being implemented by a number of Medicare Locals across Australia. The intention is to undertake a system based approach to reducing inefficiencies and providing more integrated care for patients.  This research provides early evidence on the Western Australia Perth Central and East Metro Medicare Local (PCEMML) experience.

Results suggest that HPW is helping to strengthen relationships across the system increasing communication between professionals in a way that respects participant’s time.  Interest in HPW is highest amongst newly qualified GPs; GPs who are new to regions; and for less prevalent diseases including those where accessing services is difficult. Early findings are positive and suggest that HPW has the potential to bring sustainable and appropriate patient care to an ever changing primary care landscape. However, gaining local ‘buy in’ from secondary and primary care is crucial for effective implementation. Whilst our preliminary research findings are encouraging, challenges in relation to successful implementation have been identified, these relate to the need to ‘gain a broad penetration across GP practices with a crucial mass of users’. Colleagues at Barwon Health and Deakin University are conducting parallel research in the Barwon region and are finding very similar results –  both the Barwon and WA groups are collaborating on the HPW research. Read more about the project at:http://www.publish.csiro.au/paper/AH14155.htm.

Associate Professor Suzanne Robinson
Director Health Policy Management