Virtual Urgent Paediatric Care
December 2021 - July 2022
All suburbs within NWMPHN
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased activity in Emergency Departments (EDs) throughout the world. This has significantly impacted staffing resources and the ability to manage demand. There have been rising paediatric emergency presentations across the north western region of Melbourne.
In response, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) is designing a Virtual Urgent Paediatric Care (VUPC) clinic for families living in the North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) catchment. The aim is to decrease the number of physical presentations to local EDs and ensure families receive timely and appropriate care. This VUPC will also triage patients to determine whether they need to attend a local ED. NWMPHN will fund the design phase of this project only.
A virtual ED exists at Northern Health, for all ages which began operating in October 2020. In 2022, the Victorian Government announced that funding for the virtual ED model would be implemented across the state. The MCRI model will inform the paediatric arm of the existing Northern Health virtual ED.
More than 1000 paediatric patients have accessed the Northern Health virtual ED service. The clinic services anyone living in the Northern catchment zone, if the reason for the visit is not COVID-related.
By the end of this project, the team at MCRI will conduct co-design sessions to inform the paediatric arm of the soon to be implemented state-wide model at Northern Health.
The key objectives of this project include:
- undertaking community consultations and co-design activities to explore the suitability, feasibility, and possible service model options for providing virtual urgent triage and consultation services to paediatric patients
- development of an effective service model that could be operationalised across the western region of Melbourne
- development of an implementation plan that includes key activities, timelines, risk management strategies, and associated costs
- development of an evaluation framework (including a health economics evaluation plan) that will test the model and develop further insights about the urgent care needs of children.
Key outcomes for this work include:
- enhanced collaboration and partnerships across health services
- potential to build primary care capacity
- development of a paediatric virtual urgent care model to increase access to health services for many families who may not be able to access mainstream services
- increased coordination between hospitals and GPs, with patients provided detailed discharge summaries and directions to attend their GP.