Currently, people with ME/CFS and post-viral diseases do not routinely receive appropriate, coordinated care. Furthermore, they face barriers accessing evidence-based information and vital allied health support, all of which can inhibit symptom management and recovery. It is critical that ME/CFS and Long COVID patients work in partnership with their healthcare team to understand and manage their care and rehabilitation.
GPs cannot meet all the patient care and allied health support that patients with ME/CFS and Long COVID need. The creation of an Optimal Care Referral Pathway (OCRP) from the GP to Emerge Australia for the provision of integrated multi-disciplinary telehealth support to assist patients better manage and navigate their condition is critical.
Coordination and patient centred care between primary care and allied health supporting navigation of the health system has been implemented successfully for a range of health conditions, including diabetes, cancer, paediatric oncology and obstetric care.
An OCRP for ME/CFS and Long COVID would ensure each patient receives equitable and safe care from a breadth of healthcare professionals. Allied health professionals like physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, occupational therapists and psychologists can provide critical support with symptom management. Similarly, specialists including cardiologists, gastroenterologists and rheumatologists can help with symptoms of ME/CFS and Long COVID and common comorbid conditions, like postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and fibromyalgia.
The OCRP should be developed though a multi-disciplinary clinician consensus process that includes people with ME/CFS, carers and allied health professionals to establish the elements of quality care that should be offered. A thorough monitoring and evaluation process would similarly ensure the OCRP is delivering efficient, appropriate and equitable care.