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POAC takes acute care to the community

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A new initiative that provides community-based options for people who would otherwise be referred to the Emergency Department has shown good results as it moves through its pilot phase.

​The Primary Options for Acute Care (POAC) programme is a new concept for the MidCentral district. The aim is to give general practice teams and community health services the resources to manage patients with a variety of acute conditions in the community rather than send them to hospital.

The pilot is a joint operation between a number of general practice teams, Central PHO and MidCentral DHB.  It also has the involvement of key stakeholders such as St John. 

In the first stage, POAC is being targeted at a limited range of conditions including Cellulitis, suspected Deep Vein Thrombosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, and pneumonia. The basic rule is that patients pay for their first contact with the health service as they normally would, but once they are on the POAC programme their care is free.

Over 100 patients have received care through POAC since its launch in December, with the majority of these not requiring a trip to the hospital. 

There are several benefits of this programme. Patients have provided positive feedback. They have noticed improved continuity of care, better management of their conditions, reduced waiting times and travel.

MidCentral DHB Acting General Manager, Funding and Planning, Craig Johnston sees the pilot as having great benefits for primary and secondary care.

He said: “While it’s still early days, initial indications are that POAC adds value to general practices and has been successful in avoiding patients being referred to the Emergency Department.  Our next step is to review the outcomes of the pilot and see if the model, or parts of it, can be implemented across the district.

“We have received good feedback from many of those involved in POAC. St John report quicker turnaround times for their ambulances when they deliver patients to general practice teams.  District Nurses are finding it easier to coordinate follow-up for cellulitis patients, and the practices themselves are relishing the opportunity to stretch their wings.

“At MidCentral DHB we are aiming to partner with primary care to help treat our patients in their communities, where they feel more comfortable and relaxed. This POAC model is another way of providing more convenient services for our communities.”

Contact: Communications Unit (06) 350-8945

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