The funding, part of the Innovative Models of Care Program, will support the roll-out of the Indigo 4Ms tool, designed to address crucial aspects of medication management, mobility and mental health.
The tool, developed in collaboration with local communities and healthcare stakeholders, will be introduced in six rural health services across northeast Victoria, accompanied by comprehensive training for primary care clinicians on its usage.
The Indigo 4Ms tool ensures that healthcare professionals are equipped with a structured approach to the care of older individuals, taking into consideration their values, priorities, goals and care preferences. It includes screening for high-risk medications, effective prescription practices, support for mobility and physical activity tailored to individual abilities, assessment of hydration, nutrition and sleep, as well as screening, assessment, and management of vision, hearing, incontinence, cognitive decline and depression.
The funding provided by the Australian Government will enable the translation of community-led design into practical implementation, benefiting Australians residing in rural and remote communities in northeast Victoria.
Beechworth Health Service has previously received $400,000 under the Primary Care Rural Innovative Multidisciplinary Model program, demonstrating its commitment to co-designing healthcare solutions that meet the unique needs of local communities and health professionals.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, emphasised the importance of delivering healthcare that addresses the individual needs of older Australians in rural and remote areas. “The Innovative Models of Care Program will help us find effective ways to deliver primary health care to people who live in rural and remote areas to address distance and access issues, as well as workforce shortages.”
“The Indigo 4Ms tool has great potential in helping ensure that older Australians get coordinated and effective health care, without service duplication and without having to tell their medical history multiple times. I look forward to seeing the results of the evaluation once it is rolled out,” Butler said.
Senator Linda White of the Victorian Labor Party praised the collaboration between local communities and healthcare experts in designing innovative tools to improve primary healthcare services.
She stressed the significance of ensuring that rural and regional Australians have access to high-quality healthcare services that cater to their specific needs, including medications, mobility, and mental health. Senator White highlighted the Indigo 4Ms tool as a means of reducing the impact of geographical distance on accessing healthcare services.
The Australian Government’s investment in the Innovative Models of Care Program builds upon its ongoing commitment to funding innovative models of primary care in rural communities. An investment of $5.5 million has already been made to support such models in New South Wales and Western Australia. The government aims to continue supporting the development and implementation of transformative healthcare solutions through additional grant opportunities in the future.
Based on preliminary research findings, the Indigo 4Ms framework demonstrates promising cost savings potential and improved health and social outcomes. Previous case studies have shown cost savings of $80,505 when the framework was implemented. The tool also enhances the existing care structure by facilitating assessments and improving communication and engagement between healthcare providers and patients.
The implementation and evaluation of the Indigo 4Ms tool are expected to pave the way for a more efficient and person-centered approach to care planning for older Australians, benefiting rural and remote communities and setting a precedent for innovative healthcare delivery across the nation.