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Primary Options

Primary Options gives Pinnacle general practices access to a range of funded community, diagnostic, therapeutic treatment and logistical services to help treat patients with acute illnesses in the community and reduce the number of referrals to hospitals.

The network's Primary Options service was rolled out in October 2012 to health care providers in Hamilton city and surrounding towns, made up of 36 general practices, two combined general practices and accident and medical centres and one dedicated accident and medical centre.

The uptake has exceeded expectations with all those involved in the roll out having used the service. The target of 85 per cent of Primary Options patients being completely managed in primary care and not referred to Waikato Hospital emergency department (ED)/inpatient has already been achieved.

In April 2013, Primary Options was extended to include Waikato Hospital ED. Walk in patients that present at ED are now triaged by the ED staff and, if suitable, diverted to Anglesea Accident and Medical Clinic in the first instance.

The Primary Options programme:

  • Provides value to the whole health system
  • Is easy to access for all patients, clinicians and providers
  • Has strong, evidence-based clinical pathways and clinical oversight
  • Encourages the best health outcomes for patients and support their individual needs
  • Ensures all communities have access to the same range of services
  • Utilises existing services and current care pathways
  • Addresses patients physical and mental health care needs
  • Is free to all patients who meet the necessary criteria
  • Has feedback, evaluation and auditing processes in place to make sure standards are met and necessary improvements are made
  • Is able to respond to a range of ethnicities and ages
  • Has a single point of coordination.
  • Benefits of Primary Options service to general practice:

  • Ability to manage their patients in clinic
  • Financial recognition for managing acute patient in clinic
  • Easy access to third party services such as radiology, respite and home care, transport and equipment
  • Ability to hand over care to an accident and medical clinic to continue the episode of care after hours and weekends
  • An easy to use electronic referral and invoicing system supports the service
  • A single point of access is available for information and guidance
  • Benefits of Primary Options to patients:

  • They can have their care managed in a familiar setting by familiar people
  • The service is free to them after the initial consultation
  • Prevent long waiting times for radiology and ED
  • Moving forward:

    More accident and medical centres will become involved once the current service has been tested.  By July 2012, St John will become a referrer to Primary Options. St John will triage to determine if the patient is suitable to be managed at an accident and medical centre or their general practice rather than be automatically transported to ED.  Primary Options will also be extended to rural Pinnacle practices, including Thames, Coromandel, Hauraki District, King Country and South Waikato. October 2013 is the tentative date for roll out of Primary Options to non-Pinnacle Hamilton practices.


    A Primary Options manual, installation guide and user instructions are available on the Pinnacle site under Clinical - Primary Options.

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