The winner of the 2021 RARMS Integrated Rural Health Award is Angela Hubbard. A physiotherapist based in central western NSW, Angela has worked tirelessly to promote, design and evaluate new and innovative approaches to improving access to sustainable allied health services in rural and remote communities.
Growing up in Narrabri, Angela has a real-world understanding of the challenges rural and remote people face in accessing allied health care like Physiotherapy, exercise physiology, speech therapy and dietetics which are critical to disease prevention and management of chronic illness in rural and remote communities.
“Disease prevention and chronic disease management rely on rural and remote people having access to high quality and regular allied health care services, but these services are often inconsistent or simply do not exist in many rural and remote areas” said Angela.
“Patients either go without access to the care they need, which has serious implications for their long term health outcomes, or they are forced to travel long distances to major cities increasing out of pocket costs to access health care and increasing the risks associated with travel in country areas.
“PhyzX2U was an attempt to address the barriers to access to local allied health care in rural and remote communities” said Ms Hubbard.
As senior leader with PhyzX, a central west based allied health service run by fellow rural Australian Justin Johnson (who grew up in Lightning Ridge), Angela heads up PhyzX2U, an innovation lab and service deliver model that works with rural and remote communities to identify ways to bring allied health services into small towns.
In 2019 Angela began a collaboration with Rural and Remote Medical Services Ltd (RARMS) and the University of Sydney in Orange, to explore new hybrid models of team based care involving monthly face to face consultations for rural and remote residents with a regular clinician, supported by Telehealth based follow-up consultations to maintain program compliance and patient support.
This builds on the existing mobile services designed and delivered by PhyzX2U across rural and remote NSW.
In 2022, RARMS, PhyzX2U and the University of Sydney will commence a 12 month collaborative clinical trial in Collarenebri to evaluate new models of team based care for rural and remote Australians.
RARMS CEO, Mark Burdack said:
“Angela’s passion for improving access to rural and remote health care by developing models to integrate general practice, nursing and allied health care is infectious.
“Rural and remote people bring a genuinely different way of thinking to the challenges of rural and remote health. There is no ‘deficit’ thinking in her approach, it is all about opportunities.
“PhyzX was established by Justin Johnson who grew up in Lightning Ridge where is father was the local GP (in the practice now operated by RARMS). InterHealthCare, of which PhyzX is a part, is headed by another rural origin health professional Jason McMillan.
“Too often rural and remote health devolves into discussions about barriers, problems and why things cannot be done. When you sit around a table with Angela, Justin and Jason it is all about how we can make things better by using local knowledge, skills and ingenuity.
“There is no naivety about the challenge, just a grounded belief that we can do better.
“When the Board of RARMS considered the nominees for the 2021 Integrated Rural Health Award Angela was the stand-out. Her commitment to team based care and her passion for rural and remote communities is first class making her a deserved recipient of this inaugural award” said Mr Burdack.
Rural and Remote Medical Services Ltd (RARMS) is a community-based charity established in 2001 to help rural and remote communities to keep their local primary health care services going. RARMS operates 8 practices for small rural and remote towns serving more than 20,000 patients, a quarter of whom are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Over 20 years RARMS has raised and invested more than $132 million in sustaining health care in rural and remote towns.
The Rural Health Awards recognise people who are using their local knowledge, skills and ingenuity to address the health needs of rural and remote people in Australia. The inaugural Awards in 2021 were created to mark the 20th Anniversary of RARMS and will be an annual award decided by the Board of RARMS.
For more information contact Mark Burdack on 0418974988.