Targeted Health Prevention

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will identify and engage with specific individuals, sub-groups and communities at higher risk of becoming ill or becoming more ill.

The Problem

South Australia used to be a leader in preventative health care and in avoiding hospital admissions.

But under Labor, we have dropped the ball.

As a result, our hospitals are under increasing pressure, having to treat patients who in many cases need not be there in the first place.

Better health and wellbeing require effective action in prevention.

For most of us, prevention is broadly about looking after ourselves through diet, exercise, spending time with our family and friends and making healthy choices.

For some South Australians however, factors such as family medical history, their life journey or their personal circumstances put them at a significantly greater risk of developing a health condition.

For them, prevention means acting to try to avoid the onset of the condition.

For others, where a health condition has emerged, prevention means acting to minimise its impact.

If we identify people at risk and provide them with targeted support we can improve their lives and reduce the cost that greater illness and incapacity brings.

Investing in prevention avoids future costs to both the individual and the government.

The State Liberals' Plan

We have already released a health prevention policy that commits a Marshall Liberal Government to ‘evidence-based strategies, refreshed by evaluation, monitoring and research... to maximise the impact of services and address the threat of ill-health.’

As well as using broad, community-wide health and prevention services, a Marshall Government will introduce prevention strategies which target support to those who are at greatest risk.

If elected in March 2018, a Marshall Liberal Government will identify and engage with specific individuals, sub-groups and communities at higher risk of becoming ill or becoming more ill.

Targeting at risk groups with specific interventions is likely to be more cost-effective and lead to better health outcomes.

Targeted prevention initiatives can avoid or delay the onset of illness and disability, stop the progression of disease or even remove the risk altogether.

A Marshall Liberal Government will have a four-pronged approach:

  • To avoid or defer the onset of disease and disabilities by investing in evidence-based population preventative health strategies;
  • To better manage complex health conditions for the populations which are most at risk of being high consumers of hospital care so that their quality of life is better and unnecessary hospital-based care is minimised;
  • To provide as much care in the community as possible, where it is safe to do so; and
  • To ensure fair access to health care across the South Australian community.

Engagement with clinicians and quality data will be crucial to the strategy.

Identifying those at risk

Nobody wants to be admitted to hospital no matter how good the hospital is.

Yet some patients are repeatedly admitted when the hospitalisation could have been avoided if health care had been available earlier or if it was provided in a more relevant form.

These South Australians have a poor experience of what is effectively illness care, not health care.

They also use a disproportionately large percentage of hospital bed days in public hospitals.

A Marshall Liberal Government will identify groups of individuals at risk of avoidable illness and hospitalisation such as:

  • People with chronic diseases – such as chronic pulmonary disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease
  • People approaching the end of their life
  • People with complicated social and psychosocial circumstances – such as borderline personality disorder
  • People with complex conditions – such as post-traumatic stress disorder

Clinicians will be supported, including through data analytics, to confidentially identify and engage those South Australians most at risk of becoming ill and requiring hospitalisation, and most likely to be able to stay healthy and avoid hospitalisation with earlier, targeted support.

Using the best available tools to identify South Australians most at risk, we can provide them with the best opportunity to act to remain well. Some emerging tools include advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) using predictive analytics.

A range of data will be engaged – from population health surveys to Medicare, PBS and other publicly available data. Strategies will be developed within robust privacy parameters.

Targeted response

Rather than expecting at-risk patient groups to fit in with a one-size-fits all health system, a Marshall Liberal Government will use international best practice to develop specific programs for these patients to keep them as well as possible and thereby reduce their need to use the hospital system.

This approach frees up hospital beds for patients who need them and significantly enhances the life experience of the patients who can be supported in the community.

A Marshall Liberal Government will work with organisations specifically designed and established to deliver services to these patients and to ensure they are incentivised to keep patients well and at home so they don’t need hospital care unless absolutely necessary.

This focus on avoiding hospital admission will be championed by Wellbeing SA, a new prevention-focussed team within SA Health.

Wellbeing SA will broker collaborations involving Local Health Networks, Primary Health Networks, general practitioners, non-government organisations and the private sector to jointly deliver prevention, virtual hospital, sub-acute and chronic disease management services to the people they serve.

Collaborations like these will enable partners to access different streams of funding to provide more integrated care. For example, a project may rely on SA Health to fund services which engage GPs providing MBS and PBS services.

The whole goal is to optimise health services around the client. We need to be collaborative and innovative in making sure health services meet the health needs of their clients.

Emerging health care

A Marshall Liberal Government will actively engage advances in technology to not only evolve treatment when people are in hospital but to support them to be healthy and provide health services beyond hospital.

Research shows that most people prefer to be cared for in their home when it is safe to do so; while we would all rather avoid becoming sick in the first place.

A Marshall Liberal Government will refocus our health system to ensure we increase the focus on keeping people well and meeting their needs where they live and work. This focus will reduce the pressure on our hospitals so they better cope with people who need to be there and are more able to embrace opportunities to advance clinical care well into the future.

Part of our plan for SA