Date Published: 20 February 2009
Team approach vital for primary health care: Researchers
The importance of strengthening a team approach to primary health care delivery shouldn’t be forgotten as recommendations from the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission (NHHRC) are considered this week, according to researchers from the national centre exploring ways to improve front-line primary health care services.
The Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute (APHCRI) is an initiative of the Australian Government based at The Australian National University in Canberra.
The Institute has welcomed the NHHRC Interim Report, which includes recommendations for a more comprehensive primary health care system, a broader role for nurses and other health professionals in service delivery, and improved access for the chronically ill.
“Australia’s population is ageing, and at the same time chronic diseases are on the rise worldwide. Both of these factors mean that the nation’s health system is going to be severely tested unless we take positive steps now,” said APHCRI Director Robert Wells.
“Getting primary health care right is essential so that many conditions can be treated at a community level and unnecessary, costly hospitalisations avoided. We are very encouraged by the recommendations put forward by the Commission, as our research findings support many of the initiatives.”
Mr Wells said that APHCRI commissioned research had found that a multi-disciplinary, team based approach to primary health care delivery had benefits for providers and patients, backing up calls from the NHHRC interim report for a renewed focus on comprehensive care.
“Recent APHCRI commissioned research highlights the importance of a teams-based approach to care, where doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health providers work in a more integrated way to deliver services. The review found that integrating the tasks of doctors, nurses and pharmacists improved patients’ adherence to treatment, patient satisfaction and the adherence of professionals to guidelines.
Other APHCRI funded studies have also found that a multi-disciplinary team approach, combined with increased patient education can help improve treatment of chronic diseases, leading to better experiences for patients and their families. These findings support the NHHRC’s call for improvements to continuity and coordination for people with chronic conditions.
The Institute is in a privileged position as several recently funded systematic reviews provide summaries of evidence that are directly relevant to the NHHRC’s plans for the future of Australian primary health care.”