Integration and collaboration key to a connected healthcare system in the Great Southern region

Over the past 12 months Amity Health undertook a consultation and mapping exercise with primary care services within Mount Barker and the wider Great Southern region that focused on integration and connecting local services, to maximise support for clients and to simplify the healthcare system.  Following a wide range of consultations with stakeholders and community groups, they were able to comprehensively map the care available within the region and identify any duplication or gaps in service.

The review highlighted a high level of collaboration across organisations, and emphasised the importance and value of an integrated, connected local healthcare system. It also found there was no duplication and good integration across the region, and where gaps were identified possible solutions were found.

Recognising that many locals access multiple services concurrently, Amity held meetings across different teams within organisations to ensure that the services work together and worked on finding ways to add value and complement existing services.

After identifying a need for more podiatric services in the region, Amity Health supported a fortnightly clinic from Great Southern Podiatry, providing fully funded services for eligible clients with chronic diseases. This supports the existing WA Country Health Service podiatry program, in which a visiting Podiatrist attends to residents at the local aged care facility, and the Plantagenet/Cranbrook Health Service. By considering the existing availability of Podiatry services offered in the town, Amity was able to avoid duplication, and support allied health services where they will be most effective, and where they are most needed by the community.

Amity Health provides the Integrated Primary Mental Health Care program in the region, with a weekly visit from a mental health counsellor. There is a minimal waitlist, and the program operates at near-full capacity, however following community consultation it was identified locals wanted the option to choose between a male or female clinician. These requests were taken into account, and an additional clinician was offered at the clinic, giving patients the option to select the clinician they feel most comfortable with.

The use of telehealth was highlighted as valuable by stakeholders, helping to minimise the cost of travel and increase the availability of appointments. Amity Health identified that telehealth was available with many services, and that referral pathways were integrated and seamless for clients and GPs. Following recommendations from the Shire of Plantagenet, representatives from Amity Health met with a local seniors group to provide information on available telehealth services, and education on how best to utilise these services, including troubleshooting.