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Commissioner invests in Primary Health Care for South

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

More clinical pharmacists, and greater access to "telehealth" were two significant investments in a safer, more patient-centred health system approved by Commissioner Kathy Grant, discussed at today’s Southern District Health Board Commissioner team meeting.

WellSouth Primary Health Network is to be contracted to employ additional clinical pharmacists to work with general practices to assist high-risk patients to self-manage their long-term conditions. Evidence has shown that clinical pharmacists can reduce medicine-related harm and reduce inappropriate medicines use, especially for patients over 65 years of age who use four or more medications. The contract value is $1.7 million for the three years 2016-19.

Meanwhile, a $496k investment in telehealth across the district will provide more accessible consultations for patients in rural communities. Telehealth involves the use of IT and video technology to enable hospital specialists in city offices to consult with patients and general practice staff in remote localities via a confidential, secure video link. The convenience has the potential to save patients many hours of travel that in the past would have seen them travelling round-trips from their rural home. WellSouth has already successfully held clinics from its Dunedin office with the Lawrence Medical Centre.

WellSouth Chief Executive Ian Macara says he is "very pleased" with the Commissioner’s support of these projects. "These are pivotal strategic investments for our district. Better medicines management and improved access for rural patients will be favourably welcomed by patients and clinicians alike."

Kathy Grant comments that the investments are an important step towards a safer, more patient-centred health system.

"The Commissioner team understands that focusing on safety is the key to a health system that costs less in the long run, and truly puts patients first. And we heard very clearly from patients outside of the main centres about the burden of travelling for appointments which can be avoided.

"We believe these investments have the ability to make a real difference, and we are pleased to support those working in a primary health setting to provide even greater patient care."

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