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Health pathways mobile application to support consumers to better navigate the health system

Macquarie University

  • Early-Mid Career Fellowship
Date Funded:
  • 2 February, 2017
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Dr. Annie Lau

This project is a joint collaboration between the Northern Sydney Primary Health Network (PHN), Healthdirect Australia, Hornsby General Practice (GP) Unit (a NSW Health entity), Macquarie University Health Services, and the Australian Institute of Health Innovation. It is designed specifically to realise the vision of “a digitally enabled and integrated health system delivering patient-centred health experiences and quality health outcomes”, set by NSW Health in its recently released eHealth Strategy (2016-2026).

General Practitioners (GPs) tend to refer patients to the Emergency Department (ED) in order to ensure their patients receive affordable specialist care without extensive delays. They may not be aware of outpatient services available at their local hospital. This contributes to unnecessary ED access block and increased waiting times. Patients are frustrated by months of waiting for outpatient appointments, and they lack skills in self-management in the interim.

To address this, health pathways (a collaborative initiative between primary and secondary health providers to improve the referral and management of patients) have aimed to build capacity in general practice to help patients navigate the health system. Supported by the NSW Agency of Clinical Innovation (ACI), health pathways are implemented and evaluated across NSW.

This research will make use of the unique opportunity at the NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in eHealth which is co-located within the Northern Sydney PHN. The PHN will develop its first 20 local health pathways over the next six months. We will work closely with the PHN to select two high-priority health pathways and conduct studies to 1) understand the pain points experienced by consumers in their journey through the current service landscape (e.g. inability to get timely access to specialist care; lack of self-management skills due to limited health literacy); 2) co-design a consumer portal to address these challenges with input from consumers, GPs, clinicians and health service practitioners; and 3) evaluate the acceptance of the portal from consumer, GP and health service practitioner perspectives.