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Technology enables a new model of care at Midlands practices

Thursday, 17 May 2018  
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eHealthNews editor Rebecca McBeth


A new model of care involving patients getting GP advice over the phone and email at some Midland general practices has resulted in 20 per cent fewer avoidable hospital admissions, a new report shows.


An EY evaluation of the impact of the Health Care Home model, developed and implemented by Pinnacle Midlands Primary Health Network, estimates savings of up to $25 million on hospital costs per year if the model was adopted more widely across the Midland region, covering Bay of Plenty, Waikato, Lakes, Tairawhiti and Taranaki DHBs.


HCH was first implemented in a Midlands PHN practice in April 2011. The model has since been exported around the country and is now being used in 128 practices nationwide.


The model involves calls to practices being answered in a Patient Access Centre and patients speaking directly to their own GP where necessary. It also incorporates use of a patient portal for patients to transact with their practice online.


The EY evaluation reveals that more than 60 per cent of same day appointment requests were being managed without the need for a visit that day, as well as a 20 per cent reduction in avoidable hospital admissions and a 32 per cent decrease in ED presentations in over-65s.


Time freed up by the new approach allows GPs to focus on patients with long-term conditions, the report says.


Chief executive of Pinnacle's innovation arm Ventures, John Macaskill-Smith, says GPs are the best qualified for triaging their own patients.


Practices following the HCH model give doctors specific time slots to deal with patient calls and email queries that come in via the patient portal.


He says some practices have been able to almost entirely remove their waiting rooms because patient demand is being met more effectively by reorganising those initial contacts.


John Morgan, a GP at NorthCare Pukete Road practice in Hamilton, says the practice was redesigned around the HCH model and now has a waiting room that is one quarter of the size that it previously was and is rarely full.


He says the HCH model uses technology to move away from the traditional face-to-face way of delivering healthcare as growing demand and shrinking resources mean the old way of doing things is unsustainable.


“The technology is an important tool and enabler to allow you to really try and focus on what’s the best way to meet patients’ needs,” he says.


Morgan says following the HCH model means patient care is improved and staff are much happier in their working days.


“I have a much more satisfying and structured day,” he says.


Read more about the development of Health Care Home in Features.


John Macaskill-Smith will be a speaker at HiNZ 2018 from 21–23 November in Wellington. Read more about the HiNZ Conference - click here >>


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