An innovative new health service mapping system developed by the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) will deliver better access to medical services and improved health outcomes for Aboriginal patients in regional and remote WA.
Mappa – Mapping Health Services Closer to Home is an adaptable browser-based mapping directory that integrates health services across WA with helpful information for all regional areas, including remote communities that do not register in Google searches.
The system, which is based on cutting-edge technology, was unveiled at AHCWA’s annual state sector conference at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle today. Data is available to primary and allied healthcare professionals through a free, public online map.
AHCWA Chairperson Vicki O’Donnell said Mappa offered comprehensive health service delivery information to help Aboriginal people living in regional and remote WA access services closer to home and improve their patient journeys in Perth.
“In Australia, people from all backgrounds and cultures routinely travel thousands of kilometres for healthcare with, at times, extremely sensitive and debilitating health issues,” Ms O’Donnell said.
“Through our expansive reach into regional and remote areas, AHCWA and our member services identified a severe lack of clarity in the types of health services available in country WA.
“For years, we have been hearing stories of Aboriginal people being flown to Perth for appointments and sent back home, only to be recalled to Perth two weeks later for a follow-up.
“In many cases, hospital staff do not realise that a patient’s journey home may involve a three or four day journey and travel by bus, train, plane, on unsealed roads and walking.
“We want to minimise patient dislocation by showing health professionals and patients what services are available in regional and remote WA so patients are closer to home, family, and country.
“Mappa is part of the solution to help bridge the gaps and bring greater cohesion around healthcare offerings.
“Mappa will actively help improve access for people living in regional and remote areas by showing them where their nearest health service is, even in the most remote communities. It will also better connect people with culturally appropriate healthcare closer to home.
“We hope this landmark tool will work to overcome the growing inability and inequality for Aboriginal people to access healthcare services, the unacceptably high rates of preventable health issues and the importance of culturally appropriate health care.”
Ms O’Donnell said it was likely that Mappa would also reduce costs to the public health system by decreasing non-attendance and costly unplanned re-admissions with extended lengths of stay.
“Not only will Mappa help to better connect Aboriginal people with appropriate healthcare, but we strongly believe it will also reduce costs associated with patient travel, regional and remote emergency responses and publicly funded specialist visits,” she said.
More than 260 delegates from around the state are attending AHCWA’s annual state sector conference at the Esplanade Hotel in Fremantle on April 11 and 12. Tomorrow will see Federal Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt launch AHCWA’s Western Australia Aboriginal Youth Health Strategy 2018-2023: Today’s young people, tomorrow’s leaders.
Developed with and on behalf of young Aboriginal people in WA, the strategy is the culmination of almost a decade of AHCWA’s commitment and strategic advocacy in Aboriginal youth health.
Over the two days, 15 workshops and keynote speeches will be held. AHCWA will present recommendations from the conference in a report to the state and federal governments to highlight the key issues about Aboriginal health in WA and determine future strategic actions.
The conference agenda can be found here: http://www.cvent.com/events/aboriginal-health-our-culture-our-communities-our-voice-our-knowledge/agenda-d4410dfc616942e9a30b0de5e8242043.aspx