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Improved Access to Community Ultrasound Diagnostics

Media release 28.2.13

Improved Access to Community Ultrasound Diagnostics

Counties Manukau Health has taken the opportunity to expand a successful pilot initiative to increase access to enable more than 4,600 people in the next 6 months to get ultrasounds ordered by their GP (but paid for by the DHB) from community radiology providers. This is instead of going on to a hospital waiting list. This means that people can see a GP, and, when appropriate, be referred to a community radiologist and not have to join the public hospital waiting list for diagnosis. In most cases, the ultrasound can be done within a week, which is convenient for the patient and also frees up the hospital to focus on acute radiology patients.

The commonest ultrasound procedures are pelvis, liver and kidneys and diagnoses include uterine fibroids, kidney stones, reasons for poor renal function and even the potential for aortic aneurysm.

The Access to Diagnostics IT referral programme, developed by PHO ProCare and part of the Greater Auckland Integrated Health Network (GAIHN) projects, reflects the success of the Better, Sooner, More Convenient philosophy aimed at putting the patient at the centre of their health requirements. The initiative is warmly welcomed by GPs.

According to Dr Peter Didsbury, Chair of ProCare, and a GP at Clendon Medical Centre, the Access to Diagnostics programme has benefited patients immensely. “They can now access required diagnostic imaging in a timely and more convenient fashion and this extension of the programme will prove very popular with both patients and General Practice.

“The Access to Diagnostics programme uses an IT tool to help GPs triage patients appropriately on the spot, and then send the referral on immediately electronically to the best provider. Using this IT tool means General Practice can manage a community diagnostic budget effectively by ensuring that it is used judiciously and with clinical appropriateness.”

For Counties Manukau Health this means that around 500 fewer people per month will need ultrasound at the radiology department, thus reducing pressure on waiting lists. Geraint Martin, CEO of Counties Manukau Health says that this initiative is part of a bigger picture of providing more health care in the community, where people actually need it. “We are looking at all sorts of ways to reduce pressures on Middlemore Hospital. But not just that, we want initiatives that will benefit patients as well,” he said. “This gives primary care very quick information about their patients and enhances their treatment and their experience.”

Paediatric ultrasounds will still go to Counties Manukau Health’s radiology department.


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