Patients benefit from technology closer to home

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

For the first time, residents in some regional areas have access to routine medical testing closer to home as part of an innovative technology trial at selected GPs.

Country Health SA’s Network Operations & Research Manager of the Cardiovascular Clinical Network (iCCnet), Rosy Tirimacco, said the trial provides doctors additional tools to support their patients.

“Point of Care Testing (PoCT) offers GPs the ability to conduct a range of tests that previously would need to be completed in an offsite pathology lab,” Ms Tirimacco said.

“This trial is enabling doctors to make immediate and informed decisions about their patient’s care and management of their condition.

“The tests include blood tests for patients with diabetes or heart failure, and lipid tests for high cholesterol.

“Doctors will also be able to conduct an on-site test that indicates if an infection is bacterial or viral, helping determine treatment options.

“Conducting these tests in the clinic not only helps the doctor, but is more convenient for the patient who no longer needs a referral to have the testing done elsewhere.

“Point of care testing is already available in country hospitals for acute illnesses, with this trial focusing on chronic disease testing.”

The PoCT trial is part of a wider initiative between Country Health SA and the federal Country SA Primary Health Network (CSAPHN), providing GPs with better technology to support their patients.

Together with funding from CSAPHN, iCCnet has developed a program, My Health Point of Care Innovative Technologies Trial (My Health PoCiTT), to improve early diagnosis and management for patients with chronic diseases, like diabetes and heart disease.

“My Health PoCiTT enables GPs to provide selected patients with at-home kits to monitor their medical condition from the comfort of their own home,” Ms Tirimacco said.

“The home monitoring kits include an interactive tablet to track medical markers and store data, which is continuously monitored by iCCnet.

“Staff at iCCnet monitoring the data then alert GPs to any changes in the patient’s condition.

“Home monitoring reduces hospital admissions and enables the patient to have an active role in the management of their disease, by tracking their blood pressure, weight, oxygen levels, temperature and glucose levels.”

GP clinics currently taking part in My Health PoCiTT are based in Goolwa, Waikerie, Angaston and Clare with more clinics expected to follow.

The My Health PoCiTT project is voluntary and services are provided at no cost to the medical centre, with support from CSAPHN.

Country SA PHN Chief Executive Officer Kim Hosking said in order to improve health outcomes for people with chronic conditions in country SA, GPs and practice nurses need to be able to access appropriate tools for timely diagnosis and management.

“Similar technology has been used in primary care over the last 20 years in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in regional and remote Australia, so it’s excellent to see it being adopted in mainstream general practice,” Mr Hosking said.

“The POCiTT has the potential to add enormous value for patient outcomes and wellbeing.”

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