Evaluation of a recent pilot program run in Western Australia (WA) by Rural Health West, in conjunction with several Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS), has identified a host of positive outcomes resulting from the program.
The pilot, run as an adjunct to the Medical Outreach Indigenous Chronic Disease Program (MOICDP), provided additional funding to ACCHS host facilities to better coordinate and integrate visiting health services.
Five ACCHS were involved in the pilot, spanning the breadth of WA, from the Kimberley to the South West, and running through the first half of 2023. Participants included Derbarl Yerrigan Health Service, Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service (KAMS), Kimberley Renal Services, Moorditj Koort Aboriginal Corporation and South West Aboriginal Medical Service.
The evaluation found many positive outcomes from the program, with all participants confirming dedicated coordination funding improved their organisation’s ability to host MOICDP outreach services.
Reduced service duplication, improved patient attendance and streamlined clinical processes were just some of the positive outcomes cited by the participating ACCHS during the program evaluation. Participants also noted increased engagement with families and an enhanced ability to host additional visits at their facilities.
Pilot participant KAMS hosts hundreds of visiting services to its various sites each year.
‘We struggle to manage the administration side of visiting services and providers across KAMS and Kimberley Renal Service, so having this funding for additional staff has been great,’ said KAMS Medical Director Dr Lorraine Anderson.
‘Our administration is now streamlined, accurate and creates space for us to consider and apply for new programs.’
Activities undertaken by KAMS via the additional funding included completing a gap analysis for the region, tackling credentialing and compliance paperwork and tracking SARS reports, as well as arranging travel and accommodation, and coordinating rooms for visiting specialist and health providers.
Rural Health West Deputy Chief Executive Officer Kelli Porter said the additional funding gave the ACCHS a chance to really ‘get under the hood’ and identify opportunities for improvement.
‘Self-determination in healthcare services has a significant impact in enhancing the overall wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,’ said Kelli.
‘The funding that we provided to the pilot participants was very flexible; so the ACCHS were able to use it to address whichever area for improvement or problem they most want to target.
‘This freedom of funding created real variety in the innovations and ideas from recipients.
’The funding has enabled some of the ACCHS to tick off a few extra items from their wish lists,’ Kelli said.
‘For example, Mooditj Koort Aboriginal Corporation developed resources to increase referrals from mainstream GP and health professionals for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
‘They’ve also purchased blankets, beanies and other supplies for some of their more vulnerable clients, such as dialysis patients and elderly people.
‘Despite the diversity of activities undertaken by each recipient, empowering and supporting clients has been the common thread across all of the pilots.’
Three of the five participants reported a ‘significant improvement’ in patient experience resulting from the employment of an MOICDP local coordinator, with the remaining two stating there was ‘some improvement’.
Additional comments noted in the evaluation included:
- [The pilot enabled] upskilling of local Aboriginal people for employment and local capacity building.
- [Provided a] rare opportunity to focus solely on program improvement.
- [Enabled the coordinator to] support clients with a seamless journey with their healthcare needs.
- We were able to use this as a development opportunity for one of our Aboriginal staff, who was personally extended and able to demonstrate her capabilities.
- Specialists were more satisfied.