Dr Sashie Howpage is a first year dual trainee in General Medicine and Endocrinology, currently positioned at Dubbo Base Hospital, NSW. She is deeply interested in addressing health inequality and inequity, particularly in the area of non-communicable diseases.
Assessing The Impact Of Outreach Oncology Clinics In Remote New South Wales
Background and Aim: Patients in remote Australia have poorer health outcomes than those living in metropolitan areas. A major contributing factor is the prohibitive distance to health services, including specialist care. In Western NSW, remote towns had a lower than expected use of the Oncology services based in Dubbo, the referral hospital for the district, including Telehealth.Outreach Oncology clinics were established in four towns in Western NSW (Cobar, Coonabarabran, Mudgee and Walgett), guided by a mathematical algorithm using census data for population, socioeconomic disadvantage, cancer deaths and geographic isolation. The primary aim was to assess the impact of these outreach clinics on volume of referrals from the respective towns.MethodA database of all Oncology referrals to Dubbo Hospital and outreach clinics from January 2013 to December 2016 was interrogated. The incidence proportion (IP) of new referrals was calculated before outreach clinics were established, and compared to the IP after outreach clinics commenced in each town through 2015.ResultsAcross the four towns, there were 33.7 referrals per year for the period before outreach clinics were established, with an IP of 0.001234 referrals per person per year. Afterwards this figure rose to 86.8, with an IP of 0.003180 (p-value