Mid North Coast pilot of innovative booking technology helping cancer patients get

Cancer Council NSW has partnered with Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation to pilot an Australian-first Transport to Treatment booking system, titled TRIPS, through its Coffs Harbour regional office.

The Transport to Treatment service offers free transport to help cancer patients get to and from treatment, operated from local Cancer Council offices but until now local teams have managed their own booking and administration system.

TRIPS is an integrated, online booking system which will increase the reach, efficiency and effectiveness of the Transport to Treatment program, and create a strong foundation for the expansion of additional services in the future.

Funded by a $154,000 grant from Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, the system will mean that more patients in regional and rural NSW can access free, direct transport assistance to help reduce the burden of cancer.

In April and May 2019, the TRIPS platform was piloted with a small number of users in the Mid North Coast region, supported by Community Programs Coordinators across Cancer Council’s Coffs Harbour, Port Macquarie and Taree Transport to Treatment services. Local Cancer Council staff and volunteer drivers have been pleased by the experience, saying that the new booking tool reduces administration time, makes referrals from oncology staff easier and improves communication with clients waiting to be picked up.

Annie Miller, Director of Cancer Council’s Cancer Information and Support Services Division is excited about the potential for growth presented by this new technology.

“Last financial year alone we travelled just under one million kilometres to help 2,361 cancer patients and carers get to treatment centres and hospitals across NSW,” said Annie Miller.

“As we start to integrate the TRIPS platform, thanks to the generosity of Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, these already impressive numbers will only keep going up.

“It’s heart-breaking to think of the hundreds of people across the state suffering without any access to treatment. Which is why I’m so happy we’ll have more capacity to service additional people in need across the states most isolated regions, when the booking tool is officially launched and rolled out state-wide later this year.”

Phil Neat, Chair of Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation said the Charitable Foundation was proud to offer funding for such an impactful project.

“Research estimates that in NSW alone, 90,000 medical trips are missed each year simply because people do not have access to transport to get them to treatment”, said Phil Neat.

“Geographic isolation and the resulting reduced access to health services contributes significantly to the gap in health and wellbeing outcomes between people living in metropolitan and regional NSW.

“The Charitable Foundation Board had no hesitation in funding this project as it so clearly addresses the disadvantage and marginalisation of people in regional NSW communities by increasing access to much-needed health services.”

Yvonne Forbes is a Coffs Harbour resident and a member of the local Transport to Treatment volunteer driving team. She understands first-hand how important this assistance is for patients in a time of such stress.

“All my passengers are so grateful that a service like this exists, some wouldn’t even be able to get to treatment without it,” said Yvonne Forbes. “I really value the opportunity to provide this small service to members of the Coffs community in need of help. The TRIPS booking tool will only make this process easier, resulting in a better experience for the patient at the end of the day. Any small improvement we can make on their lives is always worthwhile.”


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