Advanced Practice Gastroenterology Dietitian (APGD) to conduct primary contact screening clinics for patients on the gastroenterology waiting list (WL)

Mrs Katherine Healy1, Ms  Tracey  Martin1, Ms Caitlin  Farmer1, Ms Tanya Gilliver1, Ms Rachael Evans1, Dr Simon Glance1

1Northern Health, Epping, Australia


Background: Demand for gastroenterology outpatient service at Northern Health exceeds capacity, resulting in lengthy wait times for patients referred with irritable bowel syndrome type symptoms.

Method:  Patients fulfilling the selection criteria were offered assessment and management in the APGD led gastroenterology screening Clinic (GSC). Patients were provided the opportunity to leave anonymous feedback via questionnaire.

Results: The GSC ran at full capacity for seven months, triaging 247 patients, escalating 16% of patients due to identification of red flags and successfully discharging 68% of individuals back to their GP.  Thirty five percent of patients were referred on to more appropriate allied health services, and 3% were redirected to the Inflammatory Bowel Disease service. 18% of patients triaged to GSC had ≥1 recent Emergency Department (ED) presentation due to abdominal symptoms. All patients who re-presented to ED (2%) after attending the GSC had been escalated to the gastroenterologist by the APGD.  The GSC contributed to decreased wait times for non-urgent patients by an average of 342 days; from 523days (range: 473-598 days) to 181 days (range: 163-208 days), decreased number of patients on the Gastroenterology waitlist (167 removed), and overwhelming patient satisfaction (100%),

Significance of findings to Allied Health: The novel service model of an APGD led GSC has positively benefited both the patient cohort and the service.  Governance of the role has been developed for other services to access and the role provides a further career opportunity to allied health professionals and potentially promote retention of skilled allied health professionals.


Katherine Healy is an Accredited Practising Dietitian, Accredited Nutritionist and Microbiological Scientist. She has extensive clinical experience in a number of major Melbourne metropolitan hospitals along with private practice. She is an active member of DAA, GESA and DECCAN and volunteers her service to the Australian Crohns and Colitis Association and industry. Katherine has conducted research with the Department of Gastroenterology at Monash University and more recently worked to establish a Gastroenterology Screening Clinic funded by a Department of Health and Human Services advanced practice in Allied Health Project grant