Statewide hepatitis C model of care for rural and remote regions
School of Medical Sciences
The evolution of management of hepatitis C virus (HCV) has seen a majority of patients treated being regarded as cured. Despite this development, uptake of treatment remains low in Australia, and this is particularly true in rural and remote areas. The largest state in Australia, Western Australia (WA), covers an area of 2500km2. As the rural and remote population of WA is scattered in small areas rather than major centers, poor accessibility to remote areas and lack of adequate of medical and nursing resources pose major problems in providing equity of care to patients with chronic HCV. A statewide hepatitis model of care, established in 2009, has led to an increase in identification and treatment of patients living with HCV. Strategies used to facilitate these changes include telehealth, a nurse practitioner model, and general practitioner shared-care model. The statewide program will be modified to meet the changing needs of patients as all-oral treatment regimens become available, with further emphasis being placed on the role of rural and remote health professionals in identifying patients with HCV and initiating and monitoring treatment.