NORTH COAST NSW Medicare Local, part of the Federal Government's National Health Reforms, was launched this week in Lismore.
It's aimed at providing health care in the community rather than in hospitals and streamlining patients' health care needs, providing integrated care across all areas of health service provision.
CEO Vahid Saberi comes to lead the North Coast branch from a distinguished career in health and hospital management.
He intends North Coast NSW Medicare Local, with its regional offices in Tweed, Lismore, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie, to be the first in Australia to introduce electronic health records.
"Patients shouldn't have to tell their health stories many times over, to their GP and any other service they are referred to," Mr Saberi said.
"With the agreement and under the control of the patient, electronic records can be shared between all the health care providers they come into contact with.
"The plan is to make it easier for patients to navigate their way through the health system."
Medicare Local is funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing and will work with state and federal health departments, as well as private health providers.
Mr Saberi said the organisation would connect out-of-hospital health services in the most creative way possible.
"In the world of hospitals, running 24/7, there's never enough money and it's high pressure. There's seldom enough time to have a conversation with the community about what their needs are," Mr Saberi said.
"With Medicare Local, we'll be bringing new federal funds - $600,000 for mental health and psychology services and over $1 million for after-hours medical services - into the region and we'll have the opportunity to think creatively about situations such as those faced by people in Bonalbo and Coraki.
"In a small town like Bonalbo we should be accessing other services when there is no after-hours GP.
"There are other 24-hour services running there, like the aged care facilities and the ambos. We need to find creative ways of achieving a continuity of service, filling gaps in existing services and consulting with health providers to get them all talking to each other."
Mr Saberi said North Coast communities were proud of having the best open heart surgery or radiotherapy, but it is now time to be proud of having the lowest rates of heart attack, cancer or depression, diabetes or smoking.
"These are true signs of our community's health," he said.
Aims of North Coast Medicare Local
A healthier community with less hospital admissions
Building care around patients' needs
Connecting practitioners to work together
Introducing shared electronic health records
Tailoring care to local needs
Supporting local clinicians
Advocate and attract funding to deliver local solutions
Come and find out all about it ... a public meeting to introduce North Coast Medicare Local to Lismore will be held next Wednesday, June 13 at the Lismore Workers Club at 6.30pm.