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Bridging the gap in rural health: Murray develops national HealthPathways

Published on 28 Nov, 2023 | Return|
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Bridging the gap in rural health: Murray develops national HealthPathways 

Approximately 28% of Australians live in rural or remote areas. These regions record a life expectancy two years less than their urban counterparts, often from preventable causes. 

To address this inequity and the unique health challenges faced by rural communities, Murray PHN has developed and released the first national suite of rural HealthPathways. 

This is the first-ever suite of national pathways tailored specifically for rural and remote areas. It provides a comprehensive set of tools and resources to equip GPs and their patients with information about conditions more commonly found outside metropolitan areas.

Dr Ann-Marie McKinnon, Murray HealthPathways Senior Clinical Editor says, "This suite addresses the challenges these communities face, tailoring information and resources specifically for them.”

Addressing different needs

Collaboratively built, these pathways aim to improve health equity, standardise care, and provide vital resources for GPs in rural and remote areas.

Rural areas have different needs and GPs often come in from outside the community. Some areas are serviced by GPs who are flown in for a single day of treatment. The new rural HealthPathways ensure that all GPs have the latest, research-backed information on rural health issues and access to local support services.

Dr Kate Graham, from Western Victoria PHN says, "Our aim with this suite is to reduce the information gap for practitioners unfamiliar with the rural environment." 

Dr Richard Lunz, from the National Centre for Farmer Health says, "Farmers and their families have distinct health requirements. These pathways serve a broader audience than just GPs - they're invaluable for other practitioners, such as nurses and other allied health professionals.”

The pathways have been created by bringing together subject matter experts from the National Centre for Farmer Health and other regions. Dr. McKinnon led the initiative, focusing on strengthening the health system's foundation, fostering trust among health providers, and creating comprehensive care outcomes.

“It’s really crucial to have these rural pathways. So much of our information is city-centric and in a rural setting you can’t send people to the emergency department. You are the ED and so you need more information. Quite a few rural areas are serviced by locums or people who aren’t aware of rural issues, so it’s essential to have this information available all in one spot and designed for use when you have the patient in front of you.”

Broad topic range


The suite of rural pathways covers a range of topics, from animal-related injuries, chemical exposure, and hay fever, to where to access local support during adversities like droughts and bushfires. Each pathway can be modified to reflect availability of local health resources and services. 

The development of the rural health suite of pathways is not just a significant step towards addressing health disparities but also showcases the strength of collaboration and knowledge sharing. 

This HealthPathways suite is more than just health resources - it's a comprehensive guide that includes social components and provides a holistic patient experience. With such a tool in hand, GPs can offer tailored care to achieve better health outcomes for rural people.

More information 

For more information about the first national suite of rural HealthPathways, please contact your Community Success Manager

If you’d like to know more about HealthPathways, or if your health jurisdiction hasn’t yet joined the HealthPathways Community, please:

  • See HealthPathways Global for an overview 
  • Email info@healthpathwaysglobal.org or phone:
    • Within the United Kingdom: +44 20 3519 1964
    • Within Australia: +61 7 3559 2744
    • Within New Zealand: +64 3 595 2830