Life with a chronic health condition – what is the consumer experience?

For six months of 2017, HCC has worked with the WA Primary Health Alliance and Curtin University on a project to explore consumers’ experience of chronic disease and what kind of care they are seeking from the GP and community based services.

People living with chronic health conditions and a range of community-based health service providers came together at a forum on Friday 1st December 2017 to hear the outcomes of a focus group study conducted by Curtin University and Health Consumers’ Council in 2017.

The aim of the study was to better understand the current system of GP management of long term conditions, from the perspective of consumers. This information will be used as part of an overhaul of the primary care system being conducted by the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) in conjunction with GPs.

Forty six consumers were involved in the focus groups which met in Wanneroo, Midland, Armadale, Rockingham, Bunbury and Albany. They represented a range of ages, backgrounds and health conditions but agreed on many key points:

  • Consumers want a long term relationship with a GP who is a good listener and will work with them in partnership
  • Bulk billing and reduced up-front costs to care helps consumers to get the care they need
  • Chronic condition care plans are not well promoted and don’t deliver enough care – especially to people who have more than one conditions
  • There is a role for specialist “care coordinators” to support better management of different services
  • People with chronic health conditions should be treated differently within the GP system to people who only require occasional GP contact

The full report from the focus group study is available from the WAPHA website http://www.wapha.org.au/community/engagement/ or you can view the summary of both the provider and consumer consultations here.

Kate Bullow, Project Co-ordinator.

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