Mid North Coast LHD Director of Allied Health and Integrated Care, Bronwyn Chalker, UCRH Research Fellow, Dr Jennifer Johnston, PMBH ED Director, Dr Steven Ross, PMBH Registered Nurse, Colleen Boyd and UCRH Lead Researcher Dr Megan Passey. Photo: Lynn Lelean, MNC LHD.

In a milestone trial starting in the Mid North Coast, chronic disease patients admitted to hospital will be participating in research to evaluate how the number of admissions might be reduced.

The four-month Diagnosing Potentially Preventable Hospitalisations (DaPPHne) project is being conducted by the University Centre for Rural Health North Coast. The project is in partnership with and funded by the Mid North Coast Local Health District, the North Coast NSW Medicare Local, and the NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation. The University of Western Sydney is also involved.

The study’s lead researcher, Dr Megan Passey said the research will focus primarily on patients at Port Macquarie Base and Coffs Harbour Hospitals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), congestive, or chronic, heart failure (CHF), diabetes complications and angina. These chronic conditions affect many older people.

“The aim is to develop effective interventions to reduce preventable admissions and improve measures of health system performance. We know that the number of potentially preventable hospitalisations (PPH) in Australia continues to grow,” Dr Passey said.

“We don’t want people in hospital when there might be ways to prevent that, yet the proportion of PPH admissions that is actually preventable is unknown. Furthermore, the factors contributing to PPH admissions are unclear, and this limits our ability to develop and target appropriate interventions.”

The admissions of 150 patients will be assessed by a panel of senior clinicians and analysed in conjunction with comprehensive data from the patients themselves, their GPs and hospitals.

This will be followed by interviews with up to 40 patients to get individual perspectives around their admission.

Dr Passey said the research project has both national and international relevance, and may lead to identifying interventions that can reduce chronic PPH admissions. This would significantly reduce the need for people with relatively common, yet largely incurable, chronic conditions to spend time in hospital to receive their ongoing care,