THE adoption nationally of an innovative healthcare strategy pioneered at the Mallow Primary Healthcare Centre (MPHC) could shave a staggering €100 million off Ireland's healthcare budget.
An impact report carried out by the HSE and MPHC has shown that admissions to hospitals could be reduced by more than 30% and result in significant improvements for elderly patients.
The full report will be presented at the National Primary Care Conference and Exhibition, which will take place at the MPHC next Wednesday.
More than 300 delegates, including the Minister for Health James Reilly and primary healthcare experts from Ireland and abroad, will be attending the one-day event.
They will hear how the Emergency Admission Risk Likelihood Index (EARLI) intervention programme pioneered at the MPHC could help change the face of primary healthcare in Ireland.
Under the programme, more than 1,100 elderly patients registered to the MPHC were sent questionnaires in a bid to identify their particular care needs, allowing GPs to build profiles on each patient.
This in turn allowed them to identify high-risk patients who would be most likely to need emergency hospital care and provide tailored care for their individual requirements.
The EARLI initiative carried out at MPHC, which has 21 GPs and a variety of other specialists in one location, resulted in a significant reduction in hospitals admissions.
Not only does this ease pressure on busy A&E departments, by reducing waiting times and saving money, it also provided the opportunity for professionals within the centre to work together to assess patient needs and provide preventative care where needed.
The report will detail how, if applied nationally, the EARLI programme would result in healthcare savings of up to €100 million.
Its potential was underscored at the recent Irish Medical Times annual Irish Healthcare Awards, where EARLI won the prestigious best Public Healthcare Initiative award.
Conor Healy, the manager at the Mallow Primary Healthcare Centre, said the initiative showed how different health disciplines working together could help revolutionise the Irish primary healthcare system.
"MPHC is the only centre in Ireland currently running the EARLI programme. It has shown that considerable savings can be made without compromising individual care. In fact, in the majority of cases the standard of care has increased," said Mr Healy.
"This direct approach resulted in a more than 30% reduction in hospital admissions, something that could be easily replicated across the country," he added.