Closing the Gap - Quality Assurance for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Services (QAAMS) Pathology Program - enhancement

Closing the Gap - Quality Assurance for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Medical Services (QAAMS) Pathology Program - enhancement

Department of Health and Ageing

Key Elements

  • The Government is providing $3.8 million over four years for participating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health services to provide accurate diabetes-related pathology testing on site. The measure will provide culturally appropriate support in the form of training, technical support and quality assurance so that participating services can improve management of diabetes in their client populations. 
  • The QAAMS program also provides a leadership training component to train local Indigenous leaders so that they can better assist with the overall management of the program. 
  • This program will contribute towards closing the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous people and other Australians. It will assist in avoiding the poor health outcomes that are associated with unmanaged diabetes in a population where diabetes is diagnosed at an estimated rate of 3.4 times that in the general population. 
  • The adverse health outcomes from unmanaged diabetes, which can include cardiovascular disease, blindness, kidney failure and loss of limbs, have a dramatic effect on the ability of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to hold down jobs, care for families and enjoy a quality of life that is often taken for granted in the general population.

Background

  • The existing QAAMS program provides pathology testing support, needed for effective management of diabetes, to 120 Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS) and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) sites. The AMS and ACCHS provide primary health care services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities at predominantly rural and remote locations across Australia. 
  • Preliminary studies from the current QAAMS program have shown that access to opportunistic on-site diabetes testing at QAAMS sites has improved the health care outcomes for the program participants as well as achieving a quality of testing equivalent to that achieved in conventional pathology testing laboratories. 
  • The training and support component of the program allows the QAAMS program to achieve a quality of testing for the on site testing equivalent to that achieved in conventional pathology laboratories. This measure specifically encourages access to the required pathology testing at a rate that is closer to the Medicare access rates experienced by the general Australian population.

Implementation

  • The new funding will commence on 1 July 2009 and will allow expansion of the program to support up to 170 sites by 2012-13. Enrolment in the QAAMS program is on request from AMS and ACCHS sites where the local Indigenous service organisation wishes to participate. 
  • The QAAMS program is managed by the Flinders University Rural Clinical School and supported by a specifically-designed quality assurance program developed by the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia Quality Assurance Programs Pty Ltd. New contracts will be developed with each of these organisations.

Total Government Funding

The Government is providing $3.8 million over four years.

Content Updated: 23 May 2012