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An Innovative Approach to Improving Quality & Equity in Primary Care for Newly Arrived Refugees
The Mater Integrated Refugee Health Service (MIRHS) has an integrated model of care: newly arrived refugees are referred to a GP practice near their residence where a MIRHS nurse co-locates to support both the practice and patient for 6 months post-arrival. This facilitates linkage to primary care to establish newly arrived refugees with a healthcare home and nurture this connection in the critical early days of settlement. Since not all practices have a regular MIRHS nurse presence, a risk was identified that patients referred to a practice with only intermittent MIRHS nurse support might receive a lesser standard of care than those referred to a practice with regular MIRHS support.
MIRHS implemented both process and IT solutions to address this risk then conducted an audit across a number of GP practices to evaluate quality and equity of care. Our results indicate that this approach could be utilised with other patient groups with complex health needs in primary care to promote continuity, coordination and quality of care, especially if care is provided in multiple settings by different members of the care team.