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Enhanced primary care. A rural perspective

  • Year: 2003
  • Author: Lewis, P; Misan, G; Harvey, P; Connolly, J; White, A; Noone, J
  • Journal Name: Australian Family Physician
  • Journal Number: Vol. 32, No. 3
  • Country: Australia

BACKGROUND: The Enhanced Primary Care (EPC) program is designed to promote better management of and improved health outcomes for people with chronic illness. Specific Medicare item numbers provide government funding to encourage general practitioners to take up health assessments, care plans and case conferences. AIM: We investigated elements of the EPC program from a rural general practice perspective. METHOD: Questionnaires summarising experience of EPC for patients and health care providers, undertaken over four weeks at three rural general practices, and observation. RESULTS: The EPC program assisted the management and coordination of care for patients with multidisciplinary care needs. General practitioners were generally positive about the EPC program. The main barrier was the extra time required. The main concern of allied health workers was the lack of appropriate remuneration for their participation. Patients were positive in their responses, but many appeared to lack the motivation and self management skills to take full advantage of the program. DISCUSSION: Strategies seeking to increase the uptake of EPC items need to address efficiency and accessibility, and funding for participating health professionals.

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