Practices in Focus
GO2 Health: GO2 Veterans
GO2 Health was born out of a desire to provide a complete form of health care with a focus on preventative medicine and allied health support to encapsulate a holistic provision of care. The multi-modality team at GO2 health excels in the care of contemporary veterans and Australian Defence Force (ADF) members through team-based collaborative management with patient-centred care.
A staggering 85% of patients seen by the medical arm of the business are contemporary veterans aged between 25 to 55 years. The clinic is located in Everton Park, just 7kms from Brisbane’s CBD and one suburb away from the Gallipoli Barracks, one of the largest army barracks in the country.
GO2 Health specialise in the many unique needs of the contemporary veteran including, but not limited to, expertise in completing Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) claims, permanent impairment assessments, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health challenges and multiple musculoskeletal injury management.
GO2 Health has a diverse team of medical and allied health personnel, working cohesively under the one roof. GO2 Health employs the usual general practice staff of GPs, practice nurses and administrative staff, together with allied health including psychologists, physiotherapists, exercise physiologists and dietitians. Add in the holistic services of acupuncturists, naturopaths and remedial massage, the team of 35 pride themselves on providing exceptional coordinated care to achieve optimal patient outcomes.
The GO2 Health team are frequently looking for like-minded GPs to join their practice.
No one modality is more important than another and all work together to achieve the best outcomes for the patient. The benefit of being under one roof is that communication is in real-time and decisions regarding patient care can be made with input from the different providers, whilst the patient is in clinic.
The primary goal of the clinic is patient-centred care and the team believes that the most important part of the offering is the patient outcome. What does the patient achieve from coming into the practice, socially, emotionally and medically, and what can we do better to meet the patient’s goals? For the GO2 Health team, communication is one of the secrets to their patient’s success. The key to successful patient outcomes relies upon the GO2 Health’s hub and spoke model of care – with the patient, GP and nursing services in the centre and all other supporting modalities working in conjunction in a coordinated response to care needs.
The AGPAL Team caught up with GO2 Health’s Business Manager and Senior Practice Nurse, Jenny Strike to find out more about GO2 Health.
AGPAL Team: Can you tell us about the GO2 Veteran program and the work your team are undertaking with current ADF members and veterans?
Jenny: Our GPs are highly experienced in assisting veterans to transition from a military way of life into a civilian life. For many, this is a very difficult and traumatic process. Many of our patients have been medically discharged from the ADF and they feel ill-equipped and ill-prepared for this transition. Our GPs are highly trained in attending new DVA claims and permanent impairment assessments and this offers our veterans some peace of mind that their medical team understands the often confusing DVA process. We are also currently engaged with a University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Defense Health research project, investigating the effect of introducing additional complementary medicine such as acupuncture, remedial massage, naturopathy and yoga, through to regular care which generally includes physiotherapy and exercise physiology for ex-military personnel who suffer from chronic pain.
AGPAL Team: How does GO2 Health coordinate the care of its patients differently to other general practices?
Jenny: All new DVA medical patients are seen by the nurse for a 30-minute appointment prior to their GP appointment. During this time the nurse will complete all relevant medical history with current biometrics and add the patient’s list of DVA accepted conditions if applicable. They then commence a Post ADF Discharge Health Assessment (nursing component) which gives the GP a broad view of patient concerns, including pain, mental health wellness, smoking, alcohol and drug usage, sleep issues.
By utilising the nurse on the first patient visit this way, it allows the GP to then spend their whole consult with the patient working towards a plan forward, which often includes referrals to other relevant allied health services to meet the patient’s health care needs. The first visit for the patient with the nurse cements their understanding of the value the clinic places on the team approach to care. Our large number of DVA Gold Card holders are supported by our three Coordinated Veteran Care (CVC) Nurse Coordinators. Patients on this program are seen by the nurse and the GP every 90 days and receive a check-in phone call once per month by their nurse coordinator. The CVC program has been a wonderful tool to help us provide the supervision of care and the nursing staff is the integral key to our outcomes. The program helps us with oversight, decision making and real-time treatment planning to help the veterans reintegrate into society and lead meaningful lives.
AGPAL Team: Are there health issues for ADF members and veterans that are different from other cohorts of patients?
Jenny: GO2 Health has a high volume of young contemporary veterans with care needs that differ from their older counterparts. The group suffers from significant physical injury, PTSD, adjustment disorder, and multiple other significant mental health disorders. Suicide risk is real and imminent for many. Veterans without DVA White Cards who have chronic conditions with complex care needs are managed using the GP management plans and team care arrangements.
AGPAL Team: What are the major factors that influenced the development of the military-specific service at GO2 Health?
Jenny: Dr Kieran McCarthy, a veteran with five tours of Afghanistan, is one of the owners and it is his passion for veteran medicine that has driven the clinic down this pathway. He recognised that there was a lack of understanding of the needs of ex-military personnel and DVA processes in the medical community and a lack of willingness by allied health providers to service the unique needs of this cohort. Joining Kieran is Dr Ian Fraser OAM, a GP with years of experience serving the veteran community in Townsville and Dr Heidi McKenzie, also a GP with veteran experience.
This team of experts allows other doctors to learn about the systems and supports that are in place, whilst allowing the other doctors to focus on medicine for our private patients. The team has found that being an AGPAL accredited practice offers both our patients and our team the knowledge that we deliver ‘best practice’ care in all aspects of our practice.
AGPAL Team: What advice would you provide for other practices around Australia looking at developing tailored ADF member and veteran support?
Jenny: Research the specific needs of the veteran community in your area! Do a search of your software to understand how many veterans attend your clinic and research their demographics to be able to tailor programs to meet their needs. Investigate the complexities of the DVA process and learn how your clinic can best support them.
Learn to complete DVA paperwork to limit delays of processing so that the veteran can access the appropriate treatment and management. Veterans have often experienced significant trauma and often feel misunderstood by the regular general practice model. The external systems of care are often complex and can compound the feelings of rejection and hopelessness. My advice is to take the time to investigate, learn veterans challenges and become an expert in this area as you would for any medical specialty, as we believe there is a serious need for this to become an area of expertise in community medicine.