Health Care Homes an excellent move towards better integrated care BUT funding and data critical

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) welcomes the Government’s commitment to Health Care Homes and today’s unveiling of the program’s trial sites at Western Sydney Primary Health Network.

“The AHHA supports this reform aimed at providing better integrated care to Australians with chronic and complex conditions,” AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven said.

The AHHA urges the Government to ensure the Health Care Homes trial is provided with the funding and resources needed to succeed in delivering transformational change to the primary care system and to the care of all patients.

“The establishment of Health Care Homes across Australia was recommended by the Primary Healthcare Advisory Group to deliver continuity of care through coordinated services and a team-based approach according to the needs and wishes of the patients. It builds on the efforts of Primary Health Networks (PHNs) that are already implementing relevant services in their areas.”

“The establishment of Health Care Homes is a step in the right direction to resolving fragmented primary and acute care services for people with chronic conditions, but it will be important to get the funding balance right so that incentives promote value, not volume of services.

“However, the stated objectives cannot be achieved with inadequate funding and the investment proposed for this trial looks set to fall substantially short of requirements. Evidence from a number of sources suggests that funding of between $1300 and $2500 per person per annum would be required to truly deliver reform via a Health Care Home. There is much to be learned from previous coordinated care trials both in Australia and internationally about appropriate funding and incentives to promote quality care over volume."

“The Health Care Homes package must be more than a one-size-fits-all approach. Chronic care reforms must be flexible, patient-centred and integrated with other reforms throughout the broader health sector, including the acute sector, and designed in partnership with the states and territories. Such initiatives have been shown to be most effective when primary care based population approaches are taken.

Ms Verhoeven said the trials would underscore the need for better primary health data and greater use of the My Health Record to support the design, implementation and evaluation of the reform. This requires the support of general practice, and national health statistics leadership to build a national minimum data set for primary care. This must be shaped as a national data asset, not by commercial or niche sector interests.

“The data gathered by this trial must be used to launch Health Care Homes as a fully-resourced, integrated care program at the PHN level, aimed at improving the lives and health outcomes of Australians with chronic or complex conditions.”

Read a 2015 paper on bundled payments by Dr Paresh Dawda here. View AHHA’s Health Care Homes Position Statement here.

Media enquiries:

Alison Verhoeven

Chief Executive, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association

0403 282 501