Community health model can reduce health disparity among rural, regional and remote communities

Released on 14th May 2024

Not-for-profit community health service, cohealth, says that the community health model can reduce health disparity among rural, regional and remote communities, following the release of new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) which shows people in remote areas were hospitalised at almost twice the rate of those in major cities, and had the least access to general practitioners. 

cohealth, which recently began operating the medical clinics in Triabunna and Bicheno, says that the community health model –  a multi-disciplinary, team-based approach to healthcare – is the key to improving the health of regional, rural and remote communities. 

cohealth also says it has a keen focus on co-designing services with the community, as evidenced by the formation of a Community Advisory Group.  

Local nurse, and manager of cohealth Tasmanian Operations, Katie Pennington, says that cohealth is working with the newly formed Community Advisory Group to identify solutions to the health inequity experienced in Glamorgan Spring Bay. 

The Community Advisory Group (CAG) was created as part of the Primary care Innovative Multidisciplinary Models (PRIMM) project, which is being led by cohealth thanks to a Federal PRIMM grant. 

The PRIMM-CAG members are Jen Hackett, Rachel Jaeschke, Ayeshea Lefel, Robyn Moore, Jill Morgan, Phil Pyke, Sophie Sliscovic and Michael Symons, and the group had its first meeting at the beginning of May. 

The PRIMM-CAG members were selected via a public Expression of Interest process, and the group represents a diverse cross-section of the community.  

At the first meeting, the group identified several priority areas including:  

  1. Improving information provision
    There is a need for single source of current information on health services, referrals, and availability. This information could be written and online, and ideally could also be accessed via an in-person role who could be available via phone and online.
  2. Introduce online appointment booking of health services 
  3. Improve transport to make travelling to appointments easier
    Understanding and improving current transport services to better meet GSB residents’ health and wellbeing needs

“It was a really productive and successful first meeting with our PRIMM Community Advisory Group,” said Katie. 

“No-one knows this community better than the people who live and work here, and the enthusiasm and drive from this group of people to find solutions is inspiring.” 

“Regional and rural communities like Glamorgan Spring Bay wouldn’t have  higher rates of hospitalisation if we had the right mix of health services available locally, so that people could manage their chronic health conditions before they snowball,” said Katie. 

The community health model uses a team-based model of multidisciplinary care under one roof, including GPs, nurses, allied health, mental health and alcohol and drug support services.  

The community health approach aligns with the Primary Care Rural Integrated Multidisciplinary Health Services (PRIM-HS), a model of care which has long been advocated for by the National Rural Health Alliance as an evidence-based policy solution that improves access to affordable, high-quality, culturally safe care when and where it is needed. 

Learn more about What We Did

Learn more about What We Found

More info about the cohealth PRIMM project:  

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More information: or 0418 552 377

About cohealth: cohealth is a not-for-profit community health organisation that provides low-cost and free local health and support services including medical, dental, allied health, mental health, aged care and counselling, and many specialist health services across Melbourne’s CBD, northern and western suburbs as well as statewide.

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