Page 1890 - Week 07 - Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .

MR CORBELL: I thank Dr Bourke for the supplementary question. Supporting a patient through these referral pathways is not just about diagnosing the condition and prescribing the appropriate medication. It is also about arranging the right tests, referring the patient to the right specialist or the right allied health provider. It is about providing ongoing assistance to the patient in managing their illness. Even when you are referred to your specialist, you still need to maintain that really important relationship with your GP. Your GP will be the person who continues to provide much of the day-to-day advice in between visits to specialists.

This system has been developed by GPs, by specialists and by allied health professionals to identify appropriate and available treatment pathways for patients. It is an ideal tool to manage demand. If the tool gives guidance and advice and prompts to the GP about the types of issues that need to be managed in relation to a specific condition, that reduces the need for further referral to a specialist. It can also potentially head off an increase in acuity and complexity in relation to a particular condition, and that is a good thing. Reducing demand is critically important in the health sector.

So this is about easily accessible, best-practice guidance for general practitioners that is relevant to the local services and resources available. It is a great outcome. I look forward to seeing the results of it and the advice from our Medicare Local on the uptake and the level of utilisation by GPs in our community.

MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Ms Fitzharris.

MS FITZHARRIS: Minister, how will HealthPathways reduce patient wait times?

MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Fitzharris for her supplementary question. We do see evidence that these types of referral pathway arrangements can reduce wait times for certain services and save patients time. The pathway tool here in the ACT has only been recently established, so we will need to see the data. But we know that in other places where HealthPathways has been in operation there has been improved access and reduced wait time for specialist services.

For example, in New Zealand, where HealthPathways was first trialled, over 88 per cent of GP and practice nurses found that it assisted them in the provision of better health care to their community. Over 90 per cent found that it improved care and that it made their job easier. It also showed significant time savings, including 996,000 days not waiting for specific types of treatment—91,000 fewer days than would have otherwise occurred in people being acutely unwell and needing treatment in hospital.

Those are the types of outcomes that you can get from demand management through the use of this tool. It is a very important initiative by our Medical Local. This is really the untold story of health. We are very focused in this place on service delivery and on infrastructure spend in the acute care area. That is a very important area; no doubt about it. But if we focus more effort, more collaboration, on demand management, particularly in primary care, we are going to get better outcomes for our community. This is just one tool that is going to help us to achieve those objectives.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . .