Patient watch, Understanding and addressing health literacy needs during a pandemic in migrant and refugee community and The Northern Health Virtual Emergency Department

Presenters: Dr Don Campbell, Dr Rebecca Jessup and Dr Loren Sher, Northern Health

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About the presentation

Patient Watch

At Northern Health, we are implementing a program called Patient Watch, to support the small number of people, identified using an algorithm based on administrative datasets, at risk of frequent admission to hospital, in the community to achieve better health and reduce their reliance on the hospital. This group constitute 2% of patients and generate up to 25% of our direct healthcare costs.

The service model is very simple: lay people contact the enrollees and engage with them, supported by a team of coaches with a health professional background whose job it is to intervene as needed, but not to carry a case load as such. This amounts to being a good neighbour, keeping an eye on the vulnerable at home, and listening to them.

It embraces a very powerful concept, namely it starts by asking someone, "what matters to you?", and, "what would a good day look like to you?"

Understanding and addressing health literacy needs during a pandemic in migrant and refugee communities

Last year at Northern Health we conducted a interview of 200 of our frequent hospital users (115 with limited English proficiency) to understand how they were accessing and interpreting information during the height of the COVID pandemic in Melbourne, 2020. 

The outcomes we measured included knowledge of symptoms, preventive strategies, government restrictions, and belief in misleading information. We also looked at respondents perceived trustworthiness of information by conducting a content analysis of open-ended questions. We found strong associations between limited English proficiency and inadequate knowledge of COVID-19 as well as much greater likelihood of believing misinformation.

This presentation will provide a more in-depth overview of results and discuss how, in order to reduce transmission, morbidity and mortality associated with COVID-19, health authorities must tailor health messaging to the most vulnerable populations.

The Northern Health Virtual Emergency Department

Northern Health launched a virtual emergency department in October 2021 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Virtual ED aims to manage patients remotely in the community and if required, facilitate streamlined care through the hospital system, bypassing the emergency department where possible.

To date the Virtual ED has seen nearly 4000 patients, providing a virtual model of care for patients with acute and sub-acute medical needs.

About the presenter

Dr Don Campbell is Medical Director of Hospital Without Walls and Staying Well Program, Northern Health, and Adjunct Professor of Medicine and Professor (Research) Faculty of Art Design and Architecture, Monash University. His clinical and research interests are focussed on creating the hospital without walls, and design and systems thinking in innovation in healthcare delivery. He has previously acted as Medical Counsel assisting the Hazelwood Coalmine Fire Board of Inquiry, making two formal submissions on health ill effects of smoke exposure and improvements to health systems of care.

Dr Rebecca Jessup is an Early Career Researcher and currently works as the Allied Health and Staying Well Research Lead at Northern Health.  She has over 20 years experience as a clinician and health services manager. Rebecca is an Adjunct Research Fellow at La Trobe and Monash Universities. Rebecca has a PhD in Health Literacy and completed two years as a post-doctoral researcher with the Monash Department of Clinical Epidemiology. Rebecca's research interest areas include health literacy and communication, health equity, and alternative models of service delivery to improve access,  outcomes and health system sustainability. Rebecca has received over $300,000 in grants, including an NHMRC postdoctoral research fellowship, and more recently for her work focusing on how migrant and refugee communities have accessed and applied health information during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Loren Sher is a dual trained Paediatric and Adult Emergency Physician and the Director of Paediatric Emergency at The Northern Hospital in Melbourne. She is also the clinical lead for the Northern Virtual Emergency Department project. She is passionate about her patients and her profession. She is constantly seeking opportunities to deliver equitable, safe, and gold standard care for her community.  Creating efficiencies through the marriage of technology and patient care is what gets her up in the morning (as does coffee). Loren is currently undertaking research as part of a PhD exploring the digital efficiencies gains in Emergency departments.

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Further information: [email protected]

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