Health calculator reveals route to faster payment for SA patients
By Alicia Kouparitsas12 Dec 2012
Remote South Australians who must travel to receive medical treatment are now being more consistently reimbursed by the government, thanks to an interactive, online distance calculator.
Digital mapping specialists MapData Services developed the clever calculator for SA Health’s Patient Assistance Transport Scheme (PATS), which subsidises travel, escort and accommodation costs when patients travel more than 100 kilometres to see a health specialist.
PATS Manager Rae Winter said the calculator, which is embedded into SA Health’s PATS website, had contributed to making the scheme more efficient, with eligible patients across country South Australia now receiving their payments eight times faster.
“The calculator makes the system more effective by having one tool used by all patients, health services providers and SA Health staff to determine PATS payments,” Ms Winter said.
“With the user-friendly interface, users simply enter their start and end destinations in the calculator and click ‘Check Eligibility’.
“The calculator draws on cutting-edge mapping data and technology to immediately display the travel distance from patients’ homes to their health specialist, as well as whether they are eligible for PATS and their exact payment amount.
“It provides clear, unambiguous determinations for patients so they can make informed choices about their health needs.
“And because our staff use the same calculator to assess each application, the potential for misunderstandings or inaccurate quotes and distance calculations is removed.”
MDS General Manager Cassandra Barker said the calculator leverages South Australia’s most accurate road network data to take the guesswork out of the reimbursement process.
“When delivering an important community tool such as this, it’s crucial that the underlying data is of the highest quality,” said Ms Barker.
“The PATS calculator is updated regularly with the most current and accurate road network data available – which is very important when ensuring users are being reimbursed the correct amount.
“For example in instances of recurring medical appointments, while a patient’s start and end address may not change, the distance travelled may be different each time.
“The calculator takes into consideration changes that may affect the route travelled – such as new bridges, closed streets or other adjustments to the road network – and provides an accurate and updated distance travelled each time.
“We also recently updated the system so that patients travelling to an appointment from Kangaroo Island don’t need to manually adjust their claim to exclude the time spent on a ferry – the app automatically calculates a total that doesn’t include mileage for that distance.”
Ms Barker said SA Health’s distance calculator provided a glimpse into the future of the health industry, where clever mapping applications will play a crucial role in service delivery.
“SA Health has delivered enormous benefits to the community by creatively using our mapping data and technology to ensure their services are more accessible and transparent,” Ms Barker said.
“They join a growing number of health departments, hospitals, universities, research institutes and pharmaceutical companies across Australia and New Zealand that are discovering the value of using online mapping apps to deliver information to their users quickly, directly and easily.”
To use the calculator, visit: http://apps.nowwhere.com.au/countryhealthsa/distancecalc/