The Secret Shopper Study: Addressing the Crisis in Availability of Paediatric Health Services: Increasing the Efficiency and Availability of General and Specialty Paediatric Care
To assess GP and general paediatrician distribution and appointment availability for acute care in high and low density child population areas across Victoria. This information will help to determine the feasibility of the policy option of redirecting patients to community sources of care to alleviate ED overcrowding and provide important information to the Medicare locals regarding service availability in their areas.
Previous research into the availability of community-based physician services has found it much more accurate to directly assess actual appointment availability rather than to rely upon self-reported perceptions by physicians. The goal of this portion of the study is to assess the range of current availability (based on time to appointment) for GP or general paediatrician acute care for children in the greater Melbourne metropolitan area, and the cost of such care to the patient, not a comprehensive assessment of availability of all community-based physicians state-wide. Using publically available phone directories of GPs, the research team will select a sample of GPs within three catchment areas of three Northern Melbourne Medicare Locals in Victoria. Using established research methods, a number of GP practices and general paediatric practices will be contacted in the form of "secret shopper" patients to determine the actual availability and waiting times for acute care available appointments.
The research is being funded by the Northern Melbourne Medicare Local, Royal Children's Hospital Foundation, and the Department of Health, State Government of Victoria.
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