Innovative consumer health check takes the pulse of the Latrobe Valley

The Latrobe Valley has been chosen to pilot an innovative ‘Health Check’ to improve prevention, early detection and diagnosis of chronic disease.

The Health Check, run by Gippsland PHN, is available for Latrobe Valley residents from November 2017 to February 2018 and enables people to assess their own health risks by completing a short paper-based or online questionnaire.

The results will help people determine whether they are at risk of developing a chronic illness, such as kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. By raising awareness of the risks, people can take action to reduce their risk and prevent disease.

“Many factors put people at a higher risk of experiencing preventable disease and illness, including their age, their ethnic background, their height, weight and body mass index, blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood glucose,” the chief executive officer of Gippsland PHN, Marianne Shearer, said.

Lifestyle factors, such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption and physical inactivity, also have a major impact on an individual’s risk of developing chronic disease.

“This Health Check will allow people to determine their risk so they can take action to stay healthy, improving the health and well-being of our community.”

Gippsland PHN is piloting the Health Check as part of an innovative three-year project designed to improve the long-term health and wellbeing of Latrobe Valley residents.

The project, funded by the Victorian Government as part of the recently established Latrobe Health Innovation Zone, works with the community and local health providers to help people quit smoking, increase participation in screening for breast, bowel and cervical cancers, and increase the use of opportunistic screening to better identify and assist people at risk of developing chronic disease.

Health data shows that people in the Latrobe Valley have a lower average life expectancy compared with the Victorian average (76.9 years for men in the Latrobe Valley compared with 80.3 years in Victoria; 82.2 years for women in the Latrobe Valley compared with 84.4 years in Victoria) and a far higher incidence of avoidable deaths.

The region also has a higher than average incidence of high-risk factors such as obesity, consumption of sugary drinks, and smoking, with an estimated 24.4 percent of Latrobe Valley residents being current smokers, compared with the Victorian average of 13.1 percent.

Ms Shearer said the Health Check would:

  • Allow people to answer questions about risk factors common to stroke, heart and kidney disease, as well as diabetes.
  • Direct people identified as medium to high risk to a GP for further testing, or refer them to local programs supporting a healthier lifestyle.
  • Identify those who may already have type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and/or chronic kidney disease. 

Gippsland PHN and the Department of Health and Human Services developed the Health Check, with assistance from specialist organisations, such as Diabetes Victoria, the Heart Foundation, the Stroke Foundation.

Local GP advisors, consumers, the Latrobe Health Assembly, the Gippsland PHN Clinical Council and the Community Advisory Committee completed initial testing and validation of the Health Check last month.

The pilot will run until the end of February across Latrobe City. If successful, it has the potential to be rolled out across Victoria. 

The Health Check is available online through the Better Health Channel website.

You can also download a paper-based version from the Gippsland PHN website.