Business

How Derry technology will help Aboriginals in the Australian outback

Access Elemental signs deal with $3.5 billion nib Group to help GPs and front-line healthcare professionals in Bourke

Access Elemental
Leeann Monk-Ozgul (right) and Jennifer Neff, who jointly founded Access Elemental in Derry, announce the contract with nib Group to see their technology used to support communities in remote Australian townships (Lorcan Doherty)

Technology developed in Derry is to be used in an Australian outback community to help improve people’s health - including that of hundreds of Aboriginals.

Access Elemental has signed a lucrative deal with nib Group, a health, wellness, and global travel insurance company which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange and which has a market capitalisation of more than $3.5 billion (about £1.8 billion).

Access, founded in 2013 by Leeann Monk-Ozgul and Jennifer Neff, will provide a digital social prescribing platform, which aims to improve long-term health outcomes for the population of Bourke and reduce pressure on public health and allied services.

Bourke, 760km north-west of Sydney in western New South Wales, has a population of about 2,400, a third of whom are Aboriginal.

The township, which in the 1880s was the largest inland port in the world, shipping wool along the Darling-Baaka River, is also home to significant Aboriginal history.

Aboriginal fish traps at nearby Brewarrina are the oldest man-made structures on earth. Bourke is synonymous with Australia’s ‘outback’ as a gateway town. Many people who need access to major hospital or health services travel either 400 kilometres to Dubbo, or 550 kilometres to Orange, the next nearest large towns.

Bourke
The town of Bourke on the Darling River in Outback NSW

Access Elemental’s software is designed for general practitioners, and other front-line healthcare professionals such as social workers and mental health practitioners, to co create safe and trusted referral routes into and from social prescribing services and demonstrate the difference a non-medical, person centred approach has on the person, the community and the wider health and social care sector.

“We know that social determinants, like access to housing, good health services and community connections dictate better health outcomes,” said Access Elemental co-founder and managing director Jennifer Neff.

Access Elemental
Aboriginal culture show in Queensland Australia Derry technology will be used to help the community in Bourke, 760km north-west of Sydney in western New South Wales, which has a population of about 2,400, a third of whom are Aboriginal. (chameleonseye/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

“We developed the technology to leverage existing networks, make it easier to refer people to the right services in their communities, and track their progress.

“We can see the savings to the healthcare system, and more importantly, significant improvements in health outcomes for people from a wide range of communities.”

Access Elemental (previously known as Elemental Software) is used by local authorities, voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations, GP practices, mental health trusts, housing associations and further and higher education institutions since 2017, helping over 20 million people connect into their local community assets and resources.

Nib, which also has health and travel insurance operations in New Zealand, Ireland and the United States, in 2018 began working at the request of New Zealand Māori iwi (tribes), on population health management programmes.

The programmes that now cover five Māori groups, aim to manage and reduce long-term health problems, and cut hospital admissions, using managed health methods.

Its programme in Bourke, which will be launched later this year, is the first of its kind in Australia, focused on the health and wellbeing of the community, which is around 30 per cent Aboriginal, compared with about 3 per cent for Australia’s general population.

The Bourke Pathways programme, which includes the appointment of a local organisation to provide the care navigators, will help nib gain insight into health issues in the region and address health inequity.

Nib intends to use Access Elemental to deliver measurable outcomes and impacts. The Access Elemental technology will also help nib understand health trends, impacts from social determinate support models, which could be deployed in other discrete communities.

Grainne McVeigh, director of advanced manufacturing & engineering at Invest NI, said: “This breakthrough into the Australian market is a testament to the innovation being developed by the company throughout the north west.



“We are proud to have supported the company over the last 10 years with a variety of support from R&D to develop its social prescribing platform to expert advice and guidance to grow its exports in new markets. This support is reaping tangible benefits culminating in this new deal.”

Ms Neff added: “Our team is passionate about community health and well-being and halting avoidable health inequity. To see our work reach into communities in Australia is a huge step.”

Leeann Monk-Ozgul, operations director and co-founder of Access Elemental (www.theaccessgroup.com/en-gb/our-brands/elemental/), said of the new project: “Using our digital social prescribing technology, nib Group will deliver a care navigation service.

“It will capture individual client data through a range of assessments, generate client care plans based on care path templates, and interact with other systems used by local providers to facilitate data uptake for client referrals into and out of the service.”