Do General Practitioners in a Visiting Medical Officer Arrangement Improve the Perceived Quality of Care of Rural and Remote Patients? A Qualitative Study in Australia

I. Nyoman Sutarsa*, Rosny Kasim, Ben Steward, Suzanne Bain-Donohue, Claudia Slimings, Sally Hall Dykgraaf, Amanda Barnard

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Background: In rural and remote Australia, general practitioners (GPs) provide care across the continuum from primary to secondary care, often in Visiting Medical Officer (VMO) arrangements with a local hospital. However, little is known about the role of GP-VMOs in improving the perceived quality of care and health outcomes for rural and remote communities. Methods: We collected qualitative data from three GP-VMOs (all aged >55 years) and 10 patients (all aged over 65 years) in three local health districts of New South Wales, Australia. Thirteen in-depth interviews were conducted between October 2020 and February 2021. We employed thematic analysis to identify key roles of GP-VMOs in improving the perceived quality of care and health outcomes of rural and remote patients. Results: Our study advances the current understanding regarding the role of GP-VMOs in improving the perceived quality of services and health outcomes of rural and remote patients. Key roles of GP-VMOs in improving the perceived quality of care include promoting the continuity of care and integrated health services, cultivating trust from local communities, and enhancing the satisfaction of patients. Conclusions: GP-VMOs work across primary and secondary care creating better linkages and promoting the continuity of care for rural and remote communities. Employing GP-VMOs in rural hospitals enables the knowledge and sensitivity gained from their ongoing interactions with patients in primary care to be effectively utilised in the delivery of hospital care.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1045
    JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
    Volume10
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

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