Mrs Julie Creen1,2, Dr Ann Kennedy-Behr2, Dr Michele Verdonck2, Mrs Kellee Gee1
1Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service , Birtinya, Australia, 2University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore, Australia
Introduction: Within public paediatric outpatient services, literature has indicated difficulties with long waitlists, engaging families and high failure to attend rates. A small number of studies have reported that advanced allied health practitioners (AAHP) are an effective strategy to reduce long waitlists in outpatient departments.
Objective: This study investigated the impact of a transdisciplinary AAHP in a public paediatric outpatient department for children referred for concerns with development, learning and/or behaviour. It was hypothesised that if a child is initially assessed by an AAHP they will have a shorter wait time from referral to initial consultation, earlier diagnosis, and are less likely to require a medical specialist appointment.
Methods: From 2014 to 2017 a total number of 225 participants were involved comprising of 75 children who saw a medical specialist in 2014, 75 who attended AAHP initially in 2014 and 75 who attended AAHP initially in 2016. De-identifiable clinical, demographic and service provision data were gathered from hospital records to test hypotheses.
Results: A chi-square test indicated that the percentage of participants who required an appointment with a medical specialist differed significantly among the groups, X2 (2, N = 225) = 59.81, p =<.000. This indicated a significant reduction in the amount of children requiring medical specialist consultations after attending appointments with AAHP.
The Kruskal Wallis test detected a statistically significant difference between groups on time from referral to diagnosis, H(2) = 20.51, p<.000, and wait time from referral to initial consultation, H(2) = 130.44, p<.000. Therefore, the AAHP significantly reduced waitlist time, and time to diagnosis over the two-year period of the study.
Conclusion: This study provides preliminary evidence that utilisation of AAHP’s in paediatric outpatient departments can reduce waitlists, reduce amount of medical specialist appointments required and provide earlier diagnosis for children with neurodevelopmental, behavioural and/or learning difficulties.
Julie Creen has been an occupational therapist for 17 years and has specialised in working with children and families in a variety of settings, in Australia, United Kingdom and Ireland. Since 2014 Julie has been working as an paediatric advanced allied health practitioner at the sunshine coast hospital and health service. This role has focused on expanding allied health practice to assist medical colleagues in providing a high level of care and expertise to children with neurodevelopmental, behavioural and learning concerns. Julie is completing a PhD through the University of the Sunshine Coast evaluating advanced allied health practice and parental engagement and motivation in family centred consultative therapy.