Multimorbidity in primary care sparked a lively discussion among primary health professionals at a recent education event in Middle Park.

Fifteen practitioners, including GPs, Nurses, Pharmacists and Allied Health professionals joined the Interdisciplinary Health Practitioner Network (IHPN) meeting held on 20 September 2017 to learn more about multimorbidity in primary care, including the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE’s) 2016 guidelines, Multimorbidity: Clinical Assessment and Management.

GP and academic Dr Carmel Martin discussed current research on multimorbidity (multiple long-term conditions) and its application in general practice. Dr Martin explained how the guidelines include unplanned care and optimising care for adults with multimorbidity by reducing treatment burden (polypharmacy and multiple appointments). She said the guideline sets-out which people are most likely to benefit from an approach to care that takes into account multimorbidity, how it can be identified and what this care involves.

Dr Martin’s presentation and the group discussions also focused on person-centred care, and the importance of listening to patients. This allows health professionals to develop individual care plans based on what is important to that patient in terms of treatments, health priorities, lifestyle and goals. The key message was there is no one model that current research has proven to work for all patients, and practitioners need to find what works for each individual patient and continually reflect and improve on this in their practice.

The event was timely because the primary healthcare system currently faces challenges from the rising rates of chronic and complex conditions. Thirty-five percent of Australians or over 7 million people, have a chronic condition and increasingly more people have multiple conditions, making care more complex and requiring input from a number of different practitioners and services.

Attendees said they enjoyed interacting with other health professionals and hearing more about how different professions work with patients with multimorbidities. One attendee said: “Interesting topic, very appropriate to my practice”.

IHPN was established by Brisbane South PHN, in partnership with Allied Health Professions Australia and Mental Health Professionals Network, to provide a forum for practitioners from a range of disciplines to connect, build relationships, provide peer support and improve referral pathways.

For more information about this initiative and to register for the next meeting please visit www.ihpn.org.au

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