Supporting Healthcare Access for Rural and Regional Australians
MediStays works to make it easier for patients and their families to find health and medical accommodation in Australia. We support patients to focus on their health and medical care, rather than the practical and logistical challenges of the journey.
The MediStays Mission
If you haven’t heard already, we’re on a mission with MediStays: to break down barriers in accessing healthcare in Australia.
Many of us underestimate the problem-solving required for practical and logistical challenges purely to get to appointments during a treatment period – until we see it for ourselves.
Accessibility is at the heart of MediStays’ core values.
We support people seeking medical treatment to find accommodation suitable for their medical stay and unique situation.
Barriers can include geographical distances, physical needs, facilitating support or accessing funding. Whatever the challenge, we continue developing our services for getting patients where they need to be: accessing medical care effectively and reliably.
The MediStays offering facilitates accommodation needs, and we work with organisations supporting people to get to and from accommodation. The key to making this experience one of comfort and progress? Enabling patients to quickly and easily attend their appointments, then home again to rest in a comfortable environment.
Facing Geographical Barriers
Rural and regional Australians have a broad variety of reasons they may seek our services. We have reached incredible milestones in providing convenient and fit-for-purpose accommodation for our patients’ needs.
However, we live on a vast continent with great distances between metropolitan and rural areas.
For all Australians, bridging this gap by car can be a long drive at the best of times. But for patients that are feeling unwell or in pain, getting up in the early hours of the morning to reach the city in time for appointments only makes these challenges harder. Especially for extended courses of treatment requiring multiple trips.
The ideal situation for many rural and regional Australians would be travelling to specialist medical treatments by plane.
However flights can be expensive, tricky to schedule at the right times, and usually need transfers between the airport and the accommodation.
MediStays is committed to making a profound impact on the health outcomes of people who live in difficult to reach communities. Our Managing Director, Associate Professor Sarah Everitt (BMedRad, PhD), is continually improving MediStays’ support for rural and regional Australians requiring healthcare.
The True Cost of Specialist Care
Geographical accessibility is very important to us at MediStays. If people can’t access travel and find suitable accommodation, they often delay – even deny themselves of – life-saving medical care.
Most devastatingly this can result in poorer health outcomes, quality of life, and even survival.
Especially for rural and regional Australians:
- The survival rate of Australians living more than 200km from cancer treatment can be up to 30% lower than people living close by. [Source: The Medical Journal of Australia (2011)]
- In 2015-2017, life expectancy for both males and females decreased as remoteness increased. [Source: AIHW]
The Logistics of Driving vs. Flying
There are many reasons why an Australian living in a rural or regional area might delay or decline specialist healthcare.
A lot of it comes down to the emotional and physical energy required for travelling to and from appointments. Barriers can include accessing a reliable vehicle, a driver if the patient feels unable, travelling hours and travel costs.
Here is an example scenario:
A person is flying from Mildura to Melbourne to receive specialist, life-saving treatment. This course of treatment is six months, and requires an appointment every six weeks. Both the illness and the treatment can decrease their energy and increase their pain. They also need someone to accompany them for support.
|Driving distance between:||Total flight travel time:||Average flight cost (return):|
|540km / 6.0 hours one way (+ rest time)||1hr 20 mins (one way)||$350 pp (+ patient may need carer/companion)|
Total over six months of specialist treatments:
|48 hours return (+ rest breaks)||10hr 40min return (+ transfers)|
|*AU$440.64 (for two or more people)||$2800 return (for two people only)|
[*Petrol calculation based on a hypothetical average fuel efficiency of 6.8 litres per 100km, and petrol at around AU$1.50 per litre. Vehicle ownership costs are additional. Source: johnhughes.com]
Finding accommodation while navigating healthcare and medical treatment is challenging enough. The last thing patients need added to their plate is long and uncomfortable trips, nor additional expenses. These geographical challenges are faced by a significant portion of MediStays’ patients.
Angel Flight to the Rescue
Thankfully, a potential solution was discovered after a MediStays’ patient and his wife shared their journey with our Managing Director Sarah Everitt.
They lived in a regional area and had to travel to Melbourne in order to access the husband’s life saving treatment. So the trip was a 3.5 hour drive each way – or a one hour flight. And the flight option cost ~ $250 pp for every return flight, therefore $500 as a couple.
This couple shared with Sarah how they had benefitted from the support of Angel Flight in the air and their Ground Angel transfers from the airport to their accommodation.
Angel Flight is a charity that provides flights to regional and remote Australians to access specialist medical treatment. This is crucial care otherwise unavailable because of long distances to relevant treatment centres, plus associated travel costs.
Alexandra Zollner, Deputy CEO and Special Counsel of Angel Flight Australia says,
“We achieve our goals by coordinating private flights and ground transport provided by volunteer pilots and drivers using their own aircraft and vehicles. Volunteers are reimbursed for fuel costs, but their greatest reward is the satisfaction of helping fellow Australians in times of need.”
MediStays supports their community to find the right health or medical accommodation for their unique situation. Angel Flight is supporting people needing to travel long distances to access health and medical support. As soon as Sarah understood the mission Angel Flight was on, she knew it was a match made in heaven for MediStays and the people they serve.
Together, Angel Flight and MediStays can break down both travel and accommodation barriers in any one patient’s medical journey. This shifts patients’ and their families’ energy toward accessing the best care available, progressing their health forward.
The Changemakers Pledge
We have been determined to establish MediStays’ philanthropic culture right from the outset. So our first step was to take the exact same ethos we instil into serving our patients. Then, ensure it is reflected in our company processes and partnerships as well.
In 2021 MediStays committed to Pledge 1%.
Pledge 1% is a global movement to inspire, educate, and empower every company to be a force for good. They help companies of every size and stage to leverage their unique assets and pledge 1% of equity, product, profit, and/or employee time to their communities.
Our first goal for MediStays was to donate a minimum of 1% of our profits to organisations that closely align with our organisational vision and values.
In October 2021, we were delighted to meet the 1% profit pledge with a MediStays donation to Angel Flight. The service they provide, and the values they demonstrate, aligns with the MediStays mission to improve accessibility to healthcare for those who need it most.
Alexandra Zollner, Deputy CEO and Special Counsel of Angel Flight Australia shared that:
“Angel Flight is honoured and privileged to receive this donation from MediStays.
We know this generosity will be well-appreciated by our thousands of rural friends in need, and by our wonderful volunteers and the dedicated team at Angel Flight HQ.
Every Flight counts: the positive benefit to our passengers and their families is inestimable.”
Beyond Angel Flight, MediStays has also pledged 1% of our equity, with product and staff time to follow.
Committing to Pledge 1% has empowered us to further uphold our MediStays values and begin developing in-house ESG policies and frameworks as an organisation. Their model has provided us with a dynamic blueprint that can grow and scale with us long term.
Most importantly, it reinforces our actions in making an immediate impact in our community, and has formalised our commitment to long-term positive social impact.
We are already looking forward to the next impact we can have with our commitment to Pledge 1%. Watch this space!
If you are a rural or regional Australian needing to travel for medical care, we might be able to support you to find suitable accommodation and organise flights or transport. If you would like to find out more about MediStays services and the organisations we work alongside, see our Partnerships page.