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1.  Impact of telephone triage on emergency after hours GP Medicare usage: a time-series analysis 
Background
The Australian government sponsored trials aimed at addressing problems in after hours primary medical care service use in five different parts of the country with different after hours care problems. The study's objective was to determine in four of the five trials where telephone triage was the sole innovation, if there was a reduction in emergency GP after hours service utilization (GP first call-out) as measured in Medicare Benefits Schedule claim data. Monthly MBS claim data in both the pre-trial and trial periods was monitored over a 3-year period in each trial area as well as in a national sample outside the trial areas (National comparator). Poisson regression analysis was used in analysis.
Results
There was significant reduction in first call out MBS claims in three of the four study areas where stand-alone call centre services existed. These were the Statewide Call Centre in both its Metropolitan and Non-metropolitan areas in which it operated – Relative Risk (RR) = 0.87 (95% Confidence interval: 0.86 – 0.88) and 0.60 (95% CI: 0.54 – 0.68) respectively. There was also a reduction in the Regional Call Centre in the non-Metropolitan area in which it operated (RR = 0.46 (95% CI: 0.35 – 0.61) though a small increase in its Metropolitan area (RR = 1.11 (95% CI: 1.06 – 1.17). For the two telephone triage services embedded in existing organisations, there was also a significant reduction for the Deputising Service – RR = 0.62 (95% CI: 0.61 – 0.64) but no change in the Local Triage centre area.
Conclusion
The four telephone triage services were associated with reduced GP MBS claims for first callout after hours care in most study areas. It is possible that other factors could be responsible for some of this reduction, for example, MBS submitted claims for after hours GP services being reclassified from 'after hours' to 'in hours'. The goals of stand-alone call centres which are aimed principally at meeting population needs rather than managing demand may be being met only in part.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-4-21
PMCID: PMC2151763  PMID: 17927836
2.  Impact of standalone and embedded telephone triage systems on after hours primary medical care service utilisation and mix in Australia 
Background
The Australian government sponsored five local trials aimed at addressing problems in after hours (AH) primary medical care (PMC). The study's objective was to determine if the four trials, where telephone triage was the sole innovation, led to a reduction in AH service utilisation and change in service mix towards AH GP clinics. Changes in utilisation and mix of AH GP clinic and home visits, ED and ambulance use were monitored in the trial areas, and in a national sample to adjust for the effects of secular trend. Pre- and post-trial telephone surveys of two separate random samples of approximately 350 AH PMC user households in each area were conducted.
Results
Some types of AH PMC use became more frequent in both of the standalone services using nurse-administered proprietary call centre software, which were aimed at better addressing population need (Statewide call centre; Regional call centre). Service use overall (95%CI: 1.03–1.83) and GP clinic use (95%CI: 1.07–2.00) increased in the metro area of the Statewide call centre and in GP clinic (95%CI: 1.04–2.14) and home visits (95%CI: 1.03–3.91) in the non-metro area of the Regional call centre. Service mix only changed in the non-metro area of the Regional call centre with increased contact in GP home visits (95%CI: 1.02–4.38). Levels of use remained unchanged in both embedded services using other than proprietary software, which were established to support the GP workforce (Deputising service; Local triage centre). Service mix only changed in the Deputising service with a change away from AH GP clinics in both contact (95%CI: 0.39–0.97) and frequency (95% CI: -2.12 – -0.7).
Conclusion
Bearing in mind limitations in estimating AH PMC utilisation levels and mix, it is concluded that the impacts of telephone triage were generally smaller in Australia than reported elsewhere. There were different impacts on levels of service utilisation and service mix in standalone call centres and embedded services. Impacts of telephone triage on service utilisation and mix are influenced by the type of telephone triage offered, the goals of the agency providing the service, as well as local factors. (345 words)
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-2-30
PMCID: PMC1334205  PMID: 16343354
3.  Comparison of the uptake of health assessment items for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians: Implications for policy 
Background
Health Assessment (HA) items were introduced in 1999 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged at least 55 years and all Australians aged over 75 years. In 2004 a new item was introduced for HAs among adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–54 years. The new item has been applauded as a major policy innovation however this enthusiasm has been tempered with concern about potential barriers to its uptake. In this study we aim to determine whether there are disparities in uptake of HA items for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared to other Australians.
Method
The analysis was based on Health Insurance Commission data. Indigenous status was ascertained based on the item number used. Logistic regression was used to compare uptake of HA items for older people among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared to other Australians. Adjustments were made for dual eligibility. Uptake of the HA items for older people was compared to the uptake of the new item for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 15–44 years.
Results
Our analyses suggest a significant and persistent disparity in the uptake of items for older patients among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people compared to other Australians. A similar disparity appears to exist in the uptake of the new adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander HA item.
Conclusion
Further engagement of primary care providers and the community around the uptake of the new HA items may be required to ensure that the anticipated health benefits eventuate.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-2-21
PMCID: PMC1239906  PMID: 16150154

Results 1-3 (3)