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Hub Project

St Vincent’s Hospital Network

Grant:
  • Translational Research Grants Scheme
Date Funded:
  • 13 June, 2019
Chief Investigator/s:
  • Associate Professor Nadine Ezard

Every year, between 200,000 and 500,000 Australians are unable to access alcohol or drug treatment. Specialist services are predominantly located in metropolitan areas, and people in rural and remote areas find it difficult to access these services. Yet, harmful drug and alcohol use is at its highest among people living in rural, regional and remote areas, and this extends to prescription medications. Currently, people in rural and remote areas of NSW can access specialist medical services through telehealth, where a specialist consults with the person via teleconference or phone call, or expensive fly-in-fly-out services.

Uptake of these services in NSW, however, is lagging. A key component of effective drug and alcohol treatment is the therapeutic relationship between individual clients and practitioners, and this relationship is difficult to foster through intermittent, long distance services. The Hub Project seeks to facilitate engagement between people in rural and remote NSW and their medical practitioners through a mix of telehealth and fly-in-fly-out care. However, unlike current practice, the Hub Project will have a clear focus on practitioner-to-practitioner engagement, local capacity building, clinical supervision and case management. This project will allow local health professionals to develop skills in more complex case management and maintain the relationships built within their communities, leading to improved health outcomes in regional and rural NSW.

If this model of care proves effective, it can be scaled up to cover the whole of NSW through new use of existing technology. It has the potential to provide support and supervision to alcohol and drug professionals in regional, rural, remote and Aboriginal communities and improve health outcomes for some of Australia’s most vulnerable citizens.