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Innovative rural and remote primary health care models: What do we know and what are the research priorities?


Professor John Wakerman, Centre for Remote Health, PO Box 4066, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, 0871, Australia. Email:


This paper examines the literature pertaining to ‘innovative’ primary health care models in rural and remote areas in order to identify areas where knowledge is lacking and describes future research priorities. Although a number of reviews have identified successful primary health care models and synthesised principles that help to understand why they are successful, there is generally a dearth of rigorously collected information regarding rural and remote health service delivery. The evidence base that supports the superiority of any one model or models in a given context is thin because of the lack of systematic, policy-informing evaluation of primary care innovations. The paper identifies the need for more rigorous health services evaluation information, including examination of optimal financing systems, the optimal range and mix of providers, and supports for team practice, appropriate community participation mechanisms, improved health information systems and relevant performance indicators.

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