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Case study: WA’s Wirraka Maya Health Service leads the way in providing better patient care

Aboriginal health practitioner sitting at a desk in an office talking to a patient. Both are wearing masks. a laptop and phone are on the desk.

Wirraka Maya Health Service's Aboriginal health practitioner in training Rachial McCahon administering to patient Sherie Councillor

An Aboriginal community health service in Western Australia has produced record results in the use of technology to ensure better connected care for local patients.

During 2020, the Wirraka Maya Health Service uploaded the ninth highest number of shared health summaries in Western Australia (i.e. a summary of a patient’s key health information), and the highest number of event summaries (i.e. summary of a key consultation) to My Health Record. The service has also viewed more uploaded documents than any other primary care provider in Western Australia.

The plus for patients is that they can use the shared health summaries and prescription information uploaded by Wirraka Maya as proof of underlying health conditions that could support their eligibility for early COVID-19 vaccination.

My Health Record includes a new consolidated view of immunisation information from the Australian Immunisation Register and the individual’s record (shared health summaries and event summaries).

Wirraka Maya Health Service started delivering clinical services in 1996, following the efforts of Aboriginal people to establish a health service to address the unmet needs of Aboriginal people in the Port Hedland and South Hedland areas and surrounding communities.

The service now has more than 7,000 residents registered and actively engaged in wellbeing, primary care, and prevention programs across the region.

Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA) Public Health Medical Officer, Dr Marianne Wood, said: “The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) sector in WA has been a leader in the use of My Health Record and we are very proud of the great work by Wirraka Maya.

“Many ACCHS recognised, early on, the enormous potential of the record in improving the care of Aboriginal patients, particularly for those who travel widely and receive care from many different healthcare providers across this enormous state.

“AHCWA has been very active in supporting both ACCHS and the wider WA health sector in the My Health Record project, recognising that the benefit of the record is far greater when there is a collective effort. The Hedland Community of Excellence Project and the work of Wirraka Maya shows what can be achieved,” Dr Wood said.