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Olympic 'gold standard' care all Australians deserve

Olympic gold standard care that all Australians de
If all Australians had access to the collaborative care afforded to our Olympic athletes, the outcome would be better physical and mental health.

This is the message from Australian Physiotherapist Association (APA) President Scott Willis, who said while listening to the stories of athletes competing in Tokyo, one thing stood out ¬– teamwork in elite sport.

"Team-based medical staff working together, and in conjunction with athlete's personal practitioners, to support elite athletes, not just at Olympic and Paralympic Games but in almost all sports is a model that works incredibly well," said Mr Willis.

In a statement, the APA acknowledged the outstanding performances at the Toyoko Olympics, including Australia's 46 medals – but also the winning teams behind these achievements.
Health care professionals, including doctors, physiotherapists, psychologists, dietitians, massage therapists and physiologists, play a vital role in keeping athletes healthy, focused, and motivated throughout their four-year lead up to the Games.

"Our incredible success at the Tokyo Olympics proves yet again that team-based care, centred on health experts collaborating and bringing their expertise, delivers the very best outcomes, and this should be the standard all Australians can access.

"The APA has been calling for greater investment in collaborative care for some time. The 'siloed' approach to healthcare that we currently have in Australia leaves many people with long delays, out of pocket costs and having to navigate across confusing components of the health system."

"Every Australian should have access to a system of collaborative based healthcare where experts work together to treat patients and support their physical and mental wellbeing," said Mr Willis.

Physiotherapist Tim Dettmann agrees, saying the best results in healthcare are always achieved in elite sport, and much of this is attributable to the collaborative approach of medical teams.

"These lessons don't always carry down to the real world, but they should.

"The 50-year-old cyclist trying to get back to his group ride once per week should be treated with the same collaborative philosophy as an elite athlete.

"It doesn't happen because most health practitioners are too busy outside the 30-minute window of an appointment to contact other health practitioners.

"As a physio, I've left countless messages with doctors, surgeons and coaches and been unable to contact them - as I'm sure they have done in return.

"The benefit of sport such as the Olympics is that the medical teams work together every day," said Mr Dettmann.

The other barrier to a collaborative approach is insufficient encryption technology to support sending emails or text messages about a client's medical history.

"If there were a secure messaging service that all medical practitioners used, this would be helpful.

"At the moment, many practitioners still communicate via email and fax, and so we all need to continue to invest in technology.

"But this doesn't mean it can't happen. This week I've already spoken to a GP, two knee surgeons, a running coach and a golf pro about their patients.

"Teamwork and shared information will always help our clients get a better outcome, quicker, smoother and with less stress than if we go it alone."

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Haley Williams

Haley Williams has a Bachelor of Communication in Journalism and over a decade of experience in the media, marketing and communications industries.

She is a widely published journalist with a particular interest in writing magazine features on parenting, health, fitness, nutrition and education.

Before becoming a freelance journalist, Haley worked as a writer for NeoLife (a worldwide nutrition company), News Limited and APN News & Media.

Haley also has extensive experience as an SEO Content Writer and Digital Marketing Strategist.