Caring for Australia's Aboriginal Communities

Paul Burgess, MD has joined the MacColl Center as a  2014-2015 Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellow from Australia.  We are delighted to be collaborating with Paul for the next year.

As a Harkness Fellow, Paul aims to identify how high-performing patient-centered medical homes (PCMH) providing care to significant vulnerable minority populations are succeeding in addressing racial and/or ethnic disparities in health outcomes. Through a number of detailed case studies, his analysis will focus on drivers for success at multiple levels: funding, governance, and the targeting of incentives; organization, delivery of care, and quality improvement activities; and community linkages, enabling services and consumer experiences.

The Affordable Care Act has contributed to significant uptake of the PCMH and has expanded health insurance coverage for underserved populations in the US. Paul hopes to learn what works and what doesn’t in health reform for vulnerable populations. He brings significant primary health care and public health expertise to the MacColl team, based on more than a decade of service to urban and remote Aboriginal communities in Australia’s Northern Territory (NT). As a ‘flying doctor’, Paul commutes by light plane, often conducting team huddles along the way.

The NT is twice the size of Texas with only 200,000 inhabitants – a third identify as being Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. Describing his work with remote Aboriginal peoples, Paul says “It is Australia’s toughest primary health care setting with a triple whammy effect from tropical infectious diseases, pervasive social disadvantages and a very high burden of chronic disease. Despite this, through healthcare innovation, including applying the principles of the Chronic Care Model, we have managed to significantly reduce the mortality rate over the past decade.”

Paul will be providing updates about his experiences in the United States - look for his entries on the Harkness on the West Coast blog.

  • More about Aboriginal health services in Australia's Northern Territory [Link]
  • The Commonwealth Fund Harkness Fellowships in Health Care Policy and Practice [Link]
  • Connect with Paul Burgess [Link]

About Paul Burgess, MBBS, PhD, MPH, FAFPHM:  Paul Burgess is a senior remote medical practitioner and public health physician at the Department of Health in the Northern Territory Government.  He chairs the West-Arnhem Clinical and Public Health Advisory Group for Red Lily Health Board, an Aboriginal community controlled health organization, and provides clinical services to the Aboriginal community of Gunbalanya.  Dr. Burgess received an MBBS from the University of Melbourne and a PhD in public health from Charles Darwin University.  He is a world traveler who enjoys hiking with his family and playing trombone in a jazz band.

Event Date: 
Fri, 10/03/2014