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Patient-centred care focus for international symposium

Professor Andrew Bonney provides Illawarra snapshot. 

Holistic patient care was the focus of an international symposium held in Wollongong last weekend (Saturday 30 April).

The Putting the Patient at the Centre: Patient Centred Medical Home Symposium, jointly led by COORDINARE, Peoplecare and the University of Wollongong, hosted more than 120 local health professionals, health care organisations and other interested parties.

A key focus of the agenda was the exploration of emerging work on the Patient Centred Medical Home (PCMH) model of care, focusing on the potential of this model of care for patients, practitioners and the primary care team.

The patient centred medical home is a model of general practice care that focuses on providing holistic patient centred care delivered by teams. The model of care shifts the focus away from individual consultations to developing seamless, integrated multi-disciplinary care.

Director of the Illawarra and Southern Practice Research Network (ISPRN) and Roberta Williams Chair of General Practice in UOW’s School of Medicine, Professor Andrew Bonney, said the symposium highlighted the great research in primary care currently being undertaken in the Illawarra.

“The theme of the symposium ‘putting the patient at the centre’ is central to our research focus and we’re committed to improving the health of communities through patient-centred research and quality improvement in primary care,” he said.

“Strong primary health care services are the foundation of an effective health system and we’ve found that the PCMH model is most important for patients with chronic illnesses, our older patients and those most vulnerable from the effects of poor health.”

Professor Bonney has been working closely with COORDINARE and Peoplecare on the PCMH model of care and presented a brief snapshot of findings from a region-wide consultation at the symposium.

“Many of the positive aspects of PCMH are already being implemented by general practices across the region, and we’ve also noted that there is strong commitment in local general practices to high quality patient care,” Professor Bonney said.

“We have identified key barriers at present being uncertainty regarding how such models might be fully implemented in practices, the resources required and support for practice change.

“The fact is that people’s needs are frequently more complex than we currently have the resources to address. By creating patient centred teams we can bring a wider variety of resources and skills to ‘wrap around’ the patient to achieve the best outcomes.

“The benefits from overseas research have been demonstrated to be improved patient and provider satisfaction with reduced hospitalisations and overall contained healthcare costs.”

Guest speaker at the symposium was Professor Ben Crabtree from Rutgers University, USA, Other speakers at the symposium included UOW Dean of Medicine Professor Nicholas Zwar, CEO Consumer Health Forum of Australia Leanne Wells, Adj. A/Prof Walter Kmet, CEO Wentwest, Dr Walid Jammal, GP Leader, Wentwest,Bega General Practitioner Dr Duncan Mackinnon and General Practitioner and Primary Care Researcher Dr Michael Wright.