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‘Unhurried whole-person care’ proves best: Study


Michelle Wisbey


20/02/2024 4:11:16 PM

Longer consultations and a regular GP have proven vital in keeping older Australians out of hospital, according to findings from a 1000-patient clinical trial.

Female GP speaking to elderly patient.
The length of a GP consultation is on the rise, of up to an average of 18.6 minutes per patient.Longer consultations and a regular GP have proven vital in keeping older Australians out of hospital, ac

Researchers from Flinders University have proven a ‘quality over quantity’ approach is most successful when it comes to general practice and keeping Australians healthy.
 
The year-long trial revealed that when GPs are equipped with a support framework allowing them to carry out longer consultations and best practice continuity of care, their patients have better health outcomes.
 
It is a conclusion which will come as no surprise to many GPs, with the RACGP long calling for Medicare items to better reflect the modern realities of general practice and its rising complexities.
 
The university’s clinical trial recruited more than 1000 patients who had been deemed at high risk of poor health outcomes by their GPs.
 
Around two thirds of those patients were aged 65 or older.
 
Those patients were then asked to register with their preferred GP and given priority appointments as well as a longer consultation. GPs were also to follow up within seven days if their patient was hospitalised.
 
To enable this environment, the general practices involved received significant financial and logistical support to ensure the trial’s strict standards were met.
 
The study’s co-author Dr Sara Javanparast said patients were appreciative that they had been streamlined to receive priority care for urgent appointments.
 
She said they also felt less pressured ‘to get in and get out’.
 
‘GPs reported that the intervention gave them more time for preventive care before problems started and they felt that the longer appointment times allowed for more in-depth conversations about patients’ health problems,’ Dr Javanparast said.
 
The trial’s results come as the RACGP has renewed its calls for a Medicare makeover, with its pre-Budget submission urging for an increase in rebates and greater support for practices to grow their teams.
 
GPs also report being busier than ever before, with 71% reporting feeling burnt out by their growing workload in the RACGP’s latest Health of the Nation report.
 
But while the consultation lengths are increasing, up to an average of 18.6 minutes per patient, GPs are often not compensated appropriately.
 
Flinders University Head of General Practice, Professor Richard Reed, said given GPs need to treat Australia’s ageing population, rising rates of complex disease and a growing demand for healthcare, the new research is especially important.
 
He said the study shows its approach appears to have ‘paid dividends’, especially for older patients, with the intervention associated with a reduction in emergency department presentations and hospital admissions.
  
‘One very interesting thing that emerged from the interviews was that many GPs and patients didn’t view the intervention as providing treatments that were markedly different to what had been provided before the trial,’ Professor Reed said.
 
‘It wasn’t as if we were testing a new wonder drug.
 
‘Rather the intervention supported a “slow medicine” approach where GPs where able to provide comprehensive and unhurried whole-person care.’
 
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Dr Rodney Paul Jones   21/02/2024 7:26:57 AM

No brainer. If you don't get to diagnose what actually brought them in the door, it is a waste of time, yours and that of the patient


Dr Irene Rosul   21/02/2024 9:58:45 AM

Longer consults, efficient GP's? It's better to be specialist than a GP. GP'S are most neglected in this country, if you are overseas trained then and women--get ...... from everyone!!!!


Dr Marc Andrew Wilkinson   21/02/2024 11:58:47 AM

Agree.. but our government seems intent on destroying out livelihoods and replacing us with less qualified people for the job we do


Dr John Paulo Fenstad Trinidad   21/02/2024 4:59:17 PM

“Longer consultations and a regular GP have proven vital in keeping older Australians out of hospital, according to findings from a 1000-patient clinical trial.”
This is common sense. This applies to all patients- old and young.
A trial/study was not required for people to know this.


Dr Keren Lee Witcombe   27/02/2024 10:48:43 AM

I've been fighting for long consults for most of my working life. So much more satisfying for patient and doctor, saves the health system money as well as reducing emissions on patients having to otherwise travel back and forth from the practice multiple times instead of getting to the core of the problem in one go.