Western Victoria Primary Health Network (PHN) celebrated the launch of the first Rural Health chapter of HealthPathways in Australia at a networking evening at Baa 3400 Restaurant in Horsham on Wednesday 28 August.

The Growing Rural Health event was an opportunity for guests to learn more about what is available to help local farmers, to meet and network with other clinicians and health professionals and hear from special guest speaker, The Naked Farmer founder and St Helens Plains wheat grower, Ben Brooksby.  

Western Victoria PHN Chief Executive Officer, Dr Leanne Beagley, said the first ‘Rural Health’ chapter of HealthPathways in Australia has been developed by the Western Victoria PHN to:

  • support and improve the health of agricultural communities and farmers
  • provide clinicians with clear pathways for health care management and referral of issues specific to rural and farming regions 

“The Rural Health chapter was written after realising there was a gap in medical knowledge about many of the specific issues that farmers, agricultural workers and those who live in rural communities face.  We wanted to provide doctors with clear and concise information about these specific health management issues and, importantly, where to seek further help if needed,” Dr Beagley said.

“From our research and data we know that farmers and farming communities have a range of high risk health factors. Farmers are also especially prone to other unique injuries and conditions associated with life and work in agriculture.

“With these pathways, we aim to equip doctors working in rural areas with resources needed to help manage and reduce these risks and promote and support the health of farmers and others working and living within our agricultural regions.”

The new pathways include medical resources and advice to treat: 

  • Animal-related Injury and Illness
  • Chemical Exposure and Toxicity
  • Hay Fever
  • Heat Related Illness
  • Rural and Agricultural Health Assessment
  • Rural Community Support during Adversity
  • Snake and spider bites
  • Zoonoses

Many existing pathways, such as those relating to mental health and access to telehealth services, have also been updated to include specific information relevant to the rural and agricultural population.

The Growing Rural Health event also included a panel discussion on rural health, involving the following panellists:

  • Ben Brooksby - The Naked Farmer;
  • Tam Phillips – Registered Nurse and AgriSafe Clinician at National Centre for Farmer Health;
  • Rohan Gunning – Fifth generation local farmer at “Mountain View” – a small mixed farming operation producing fine wool & prime lambs; and
  • Dr Kate Graham - local GP and Western Victoria PHN HealthPathways GP Editor.

Photo (L-R): Tam Phillips,  Dr Kate Graham, Ben Brooksby, Rohan Gunning and Dr Leanne Beagley.

 

About HealthPathways:

HealthPathways is a web based information portal that provides simple clinical guidelines and referral information for general practitioners and other primary health care providers.  The Pathways are locally written and relevant to our regions and we currently have over 700 pathways on a variety of clinical topics.

HealthPathways is the central source of health services information, providing condition specific information on assessment, management, and local referral options for clinician use during consultation.

Western Victoria PHN has partnered with regional health services, such as Wimmera Health Care Group, West Wimmera Health Service, Rural Northwest Health and Edenhope and District Memorial Hospital, to localise the development, implementation and evaluation of the content to the Horsham Wimmera region.

HealthPathways promotes care options for patients where and when they need it, and as the health needs of a population change over time, information is updated or added.

Through HealthPathways we aim to build a stronger primary care sector by improving communication between all health care providers, supporting and empowering general practitioners and ultimately delivering quality care to our community.