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LIVE - Chronic Heart Failure: A Primary Care Approach
Published 10 July 2023

In the past few years, screening and early intervention programs for chronic diseases have faced setbacks, leading to a surge in undiagnosed cases within communities. Chronic heart failure, affecting 2% of adult Australians, has significantly contributed to repeated hospitalisations, many of which could be prevented. In response, the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) initiated a project to improve patient outcomes, reduce costs, and enhance primary care capacity through innovative models of care.

In line with the Federal Government’s commitment to managing chronic heart failure, WAPHA, as the operator of Western Australia’s three PHNs, is ideally positioned to drive models of care that improve patient outcomes and reduce avoidable healthcare costs through improving the capacity of primary care and supporting care coordination.

The development of the course "Chronic Heart Failure: A Primary Care Approach" stemmed from the pressing need to empower healthcare . This initiative, a joint effort by WAPHA and Benchmarque Group, delves into the intricate aspects of Chronic Heart Failure, covering pathophysiology, clinical guidelines, symptom recognition, and holistic care strategies.professionals with specialised expertise in managing chronic heart failure effectively Its purpose is to equip primary care providers, such as General Practitioners, Practice Nurses, and Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners, with the knowledge and skills necessary to prevent disease progression, minimise complications, and enhance the overall quality of life for patients.

Furthermore, this project is pivotal in reinforcing general practice as a hub for comprehensive multidisciplinary care. Aligned with the National Strategic Framework for Chronic Conditions and the evidence-based principles of the National Heart Foundation of Australia, the Chronic Heart Failure Project is designed to pilot a General Practice-led, patient-centred multidisciplinary model of care in Western Australia. This model emphasises various crucial aspects:

  • Building capacity within General Practice
  • Implementing quality improvement cycles to refine general practice processes
  • Empowering and educating CHF patients and their caregivers
  • Enhancing the role of practice nurses in CHF management
  • Collaborating effectively with pharmacists
  • Strengthening the connections and collaboration between primary and tertiary care institutions.

 By focusing on these key elements, the Chronic Heart Failure Project aims to create a seamless healthcare ecosystem, ensuring optimal care delivery, comprehensive patient education, and continuous support.

WAPHA, the operator of Western Australia’s three Primary Health Networks (PHNs), collaborated closely with Benchmarque Group, their trusted educational partner. Together, we meticulously crafted a nationally accredited hybrid course, seamlessly blending online learning with interactive virtual workshops.

In alignment with the Australian Government’s Community Health & Hospitals Program (CHHP), WAPHA embarked on a pioneering Chronic Heart Failure (CHF) Pilot Project. This initiative aims to break down barriers hindering CHF patients from accessing care while equipping primary care providers with the tools to prevent disease progression, minimise complications, and enhance overall quality of life. The project includes vital capacity-building efforts, including delivering this comprehensive education module.

WAPHA's collaboration with Benchmarque Group in the Chronic Heart Failure project is a testament to our successful partnership, cultivated over several years of collaborative work on various clinical courses within primary care. Benchmarque Group was specifically chosen to develop an accredited course accessible to various health professionals operating in primary care settings.

By empowering primary care providers, this course facilitates the prevention of disease progression, reduction of complications, and enhancement of patients' overall quality of life. Through this initiative, WAPHA and Benchmarque Group are championing a transformative approach to chronic heart failure management, enriching the landscape of primary healthcare nationwide.

The dedicated project team, comprising Subject Matter Experts (SME) hailing from both regional and metropolitan areas of Western Australia, meticulously crafted the course framework. This collaborative effort laid the foundation for the course framework, identifying key topics crucial for inclusion. The course content, meticulously developed within these parameters, underwent thorough scrutiny and approval by our SMEs, ensuring its accuracy and relevance.

The course's structured curriculum caters to both Registered Nurses (RNs) and General Practitioners (GPs), providing a comprehensive understanding of chronic heart failure management strategies. Implementing quality improvement cycles, the project enhances general practice processes, empowering healthcare providers and enlightening patients and their caregivers. By integrating pharmacists and practice nurses into the multidisciplinary model, the initiative strengthens the vital links between primary and tertiary care.

Offering two distinct pathways – one for Registered Nurses and another for General Practitioners – the course content was meticulously crafted in collaboration with experts. Wendy Shepherdley, RN, directed her expertise toward the RN Pathway, incorporating a blend of online learning and engaging virtual workshops.

It's essential to note that the General Practitioner Pathway of this course will be exclusively delivered online, underscoring the commitment to accessible and efficient learning experiences.

The Chronic Heart Failure: A Primary Care Approach course is a testament to collaborative efforts in transforming primary care. By bridging knowledge gaps and fostering collaboration, WAPHA and Benchmarque Group have paved the way for a patient-centred approach, reducing healthcare costs and improving the overall well-being of individuals living with chronic heart failure. This initiative not only addresses immediate healthcare challenges but also sets a precedent for future innovations in healthcare education and patient care.