I am excited to announce that our region has been selected to participate in a major, national trial that aims to improve the treatment of people with chronic diseases (such as diabetes, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, mental health issues, respiratory problems and other conditions).
In a joint statement from the Prime Minister and the Minister for Health & Aged Care today, Nepean Blue Mountains PHN has been announced as one of 10 Primary Health Networks across Australia, and one of three in NSW, chosen to establish Health Care Homes in general practice.
Not only does this new model represent major healthcare reform, but I see it as an exciting and necessary evolution in the way the health system supports the management of patients.
The current health system was designed to effectively address one-off health problems but today’s GP faces increasing numbers of people with multiple conditions that need to be actively and continually managed in order to keep well and avoid unnecessary hospital visits.
With chronic diseases affecting one in five Australians, the Health Care Home model will offer better support to GPs, allowing them to be more proactive in caring for people with chronic diseases.
What is a Health Care Home?
A Health Care Home is a general practice chosen by a patient to be their medical ‘home-base’. That practice commits to being responsible for their ongoing, comprehensive, holistic medical care. The general practice will work in partnership with the patient and other health professionals to tailor their care to address the individual’s specific conditions and coordinate the range of services that they require.
Many of the general practices in our region are already adopting components of a Health Care Home and NBMPHN continues to support this. This includes developing individualised care plans with patients; using the electronic My Health Record to better communicate with others in the health care team; and collecting and reviewing data to improve patient outcomes.
However, the Government’s Health Care Home trial will also test voluntary patient enrolment with a general practice and a new, more-flexible payment structure. In recognition of the increased time and ongoing efforts required by GPs and nurses to support patients with chronic diseases, the GP will be provided with a ‘bundled’ payment by the Government rather than a fee for each patient visit.
This will provide greater flexibility for the General Practice team to coordinate and tailor the care to suit the patient. This may include support by telephone or email and effective access to after-hours advice.
What will the trial involve?
The Government's Health Care Home trial, which was a key recommendation from the clinician-led Primary Health Care Advisory Group, will begin in July next year.
It is understood that 200 practices located in the PHN trial regions will be selected to participate in the Health Care Home trial based on an expression of interest process. The trial will include about 65,000 patients. The Primary Health Care Advisory Group Report: Better Outcomes for people with Chronic and Complex Health Conditions provides more information about the Health Care Home model.
I will share further details about the trial in our region as it comes to hand.