Seacombe Medical Centre has a mixed socio-economic patient population and has been providing comprehensive medical care to patients for over 40 years. The practice is one of our medium size practices with 63 participants and 6 GPs taking part in the trial.
Seacombe routinely offers same day, double appointments without any additional co-payments to QUEST participants. Most participants joining QUEST were already on a care plan and these are being regularly reviewed during the trial. Like other QUEST practices Seacombe are gearing up for the flu season with clinics planned in late April.
In the 12 months prior to Flinders QUEST our Medicare data showed that Seacombe participants had high levels of both continuity of care (seeing their preferred GP) and longer appointments. Practice staff have targeted providing more nursing contacts for the QUEST participants with nurse visits scheduled prior to the GP seeing the patient.
With only a limited number of Medicare item numbers to bill for nurses, Seacombe staff made the good point that this ‘extra’ work was not going to be reflected in our Medicare statistics. During the design of Flinders QUEST we were very conscious of not creating additional paperwork burden and so we haven’t asked practices to record these additional workload statistics. The extra nurse work will, however, be picked up qualitatively when we interview practice staff about their experiences.
Seacombe are also considering taking part in the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Coordinated Veterans’ Care (CVC) Program. Flinders QUEST was modelled on several aspects of this program, based on our experiences working with the DVA on the CVC program design and evaluation. Interestingly the CVC program also appears to be guiding the Government’s latest thinking for the next iteration of the Health Care Home model with details about this released in the latest budget. The results from Flinders QUEST therefore will be highly influential in informing future national primary health care policy.
A nice touch at Seacombe was learning that the QUEST initial practice payment had been directed to purchasing new adjustable height beds for their consulting rooms. These can be very beneficial for older patients or those with multiple chronic illnesses (many of whom will be QUEST participants). So well done Seacombe!