Canada and Australia are two countries trying to improve their systems for delivering primary healthcare (PHC). However many consumers are still unable to access quality care – especially for the sick, the poor, or those who are otherwise disadvantaged. Poor PHC access leads to overloaded emergency departments, avoidable hospitalisations and, in the long run, to increased costs and poor health outcomes. Canada and Australia have introduced a number of programs to improve access to PHC. However many of these programs have been either limited in their scope or restricted to ‘pilot studies’. Our team comprises researchers, clinicians and decision makers who have come together to help solve some of these critical problems. We plan to work with consumers and providers in six regions (three in Australia and three in Canada) to identify, refine and then trial ‘world’s best practice’ innovations to assist access, particularly for vulnerable populations. These innovations won’t be simply thrust upon communities. We will build upon our team’s existing links with community leaders, decision makers and health professionals in each region to develop innovations that enhance the local system, are tailored to local needs and are likely to make a real difference to vulnerable groups. Our evaluation will determine whether these interventions work to improve access to quality care. Our 5 year program will give governments, health services and consumers in both countries a rich understanding of what really matters in access to needed PHC. Decision makers and communities will have a toolkit and a well-tested plan through which to address local access needs. Most importantly, all will have an opportunity to reduce the access gap for vulnerable populations so that better health outcomes can be achieved and healthcare funds can be used to best purpose.
Stephen Christley, Simone Dahrouge, Jeannie L Haggerty, Mark Harris, Jacques Lemelin, Jean-Frédéric Levesque, Virginia Lewis, Denis A. Roy, Grant Mervyn Russell, Catherine Mary Scott, Nigel Philip Stocks