The SA HealthPlus Coordinated Care Trial in the Eyre Region began in fortuitous circumstances. First, it coincided with the completion of the Eyre Regional Health Service (ERHS) needs assessment in 1996, which highlighted outstanding health service needs and community concerns in relation to health care across the region. Second, although conceived as a formal trial, using standard research techniques, scientific processes and formal control groups to test significant differences between intervention and control groups, the trial did not conform strictly to the rules of social science or pure science and became more an exercise in action research. More significantly still, the Eyre Region became involved in the process, not so much as a way of proving a concept (the SA Health Plus hypotheses around utilisation, funding and health outcomes), but as a way of creating opportunities for change in the regional health system. If nothing else, the region stood to benefit from the implementation of the trial and involvement in the trial process. The present paper outlines the impact of the Eyre Coordinated Care Trial, not in terms of hypotheses and data analysis, but in terms of the impact of the trial processes on systems change and the evolution of an outcome-based health system. Such a system has the potential to deliver improved health outcomes to communities within existing financial resources and make much more effective use of resources by integrating care delivery and encouraging collaboration between health providers. In addition, the success of the change process in Eyre also supports the notion that change is not necessarily predicated upon scientific processes and research outcomes alone, but also upon the human and social structures associated with such endeavours. This perspective also contributes to the debate about the nature and role of science in the advancement of knowledge.
Field of Research
111799 Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective
920499 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) not elsewhere classified
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