In Consultation

The IPN blog for healthcare professionals.

  • Healthcare delivery on the cusp of change

    Dr Malcolm Parmenter
    Posted by on 12 Apr 2016

    The patient demographic in Australia is changing and the way we deliver healthcare needs to change accordingly. Our ageing population and the growing burden of chronic disease demands a more holistic, patient-centred approach to care rather than the somewhat siloed system that currently exists.  While our almost exclusively fee-for-service model has served us well over the last 30 years, it is probably not best suited to meet the needs of some of our more complex and unwell patients.

    Sonic Clinical Services (SCS) recently held a national leaders symposium on the topic of Patient Centred Integrated Care that attracted Board directors and CEOs from 17 Primary Health Networks, key representatives from the Department of Health, senior executives from private health insurers and a number of other health service providers. The event prompted a conversation on the key aspects of a well-designed integrated medical home for patients. There was agreement and a real acknowledgement that general practice is crucial to the functioning of integrated medical homes. It was also acknowledged and that funders and service providers really need to work together in public-private partnerships if we are to deliver models of care that are financially sustainable, scalable and provide enhanced care to our patients.

    During the event SCS also launched our own package of integrated care programs, WellNet, which outlines how a patient centred integrated medical home model can be implemented around GP practices, which are, and should remain, the front line of primary care services in Australia.

    With the release of the report of the Primary Health Care Advisory Group (PCHAG) that I was fortunate to be a part of, and the subsequent announcement by Minister Susan Ley, we are now at the cusp of a significant trial of medical homes in Australia. This will be supported by a change to a blended payment model that promises to better align the payment system with individual patient care needs. This approach is evidence-based and strongly supported by patients, providers and governments across Australia.

    I am convinced this approach can improve care for people with multi-morbidity and complex care needs. The challenge now is for Government to provide adequate funding to support the whole multidisciplinary care team and allow this new care model to deliver on its promise.