Let’s have coordination and integration in healthcare after the election, not silos

Coordinated and integrated care, and innovation graphic
Tuesday, May 14, 2019

‘Coordinated and integrated healthcare services, tailored to individual patients, are what is needed in healthcare today—not the siloed approaches of yesterday’, says Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association.

‘As our population ages and rates of chronic disease continue to rise, Australians will increasingly find themselves in need of multiple types of care with multiple providers.

‘In our current health system, it is often up to the patient to navigate their own way through a confusing maze of services, not knowing the full range of options available, whether they are government-provided or private, whether they are subsidised or not, the likely level of out-of-pocket costs, and any applicable waiting periods.

‘This can lead to duplication of services, avoidable emergency department presentations and hospital admissions, ‘bill shock’, and unnecessary spending and stress for governments, clinicians, providers and patients.

‘The Coalition, Labor and the Greens are all fully aware of this. There have been some initial steps and promises with governance and funding at a regional level that supports integration of primary healthcare services—but much more needs to be done by way of heavy-duty reform.

‘We urge whoever is in government after 18 May to accelerate progress towards better coordination of services, both within the health sector and across to other sectors such as aged care and disability services. This will ensure better service delivery, improved efficiency, better outcomes and improved quality of life for those who need combinations of such services.

‘Models of care and funding arrangements will need to move away from traditional fee-for-service payments and funding, which can entrench fragmented care.

‘Instead, rewards and funding should be re-oriented to what matters to patients, namely health outcomes and ongoing effective management, usually for life, of chronic conditions.

‘To reform the health system in this way, governments will need to commit to working in partnership to create a health system not constrained by constitutional or legal barriers, or politics.

‘Governments will need to embed My Health Record as a nationally consistent electronic patient health record, to be available wherever care is accessed, subject to privacy and confidentiality protections.

‘They will also need to show leadership in dealing with the inevitable opposition that will come from powerful vested interests who like the system just the way it is.

‘A changed healthcare workforce will be needed and funded, to deliver the full range of services required.

‘Flexibility in funding arrangements will be needed to cater for vulnerable populations in specific regions. Research on innovative approaches to healthcare delivery will need to be supported.

‘It is a major and difficult task. But innovation in health has never been easy—one only has to look at the vicious opposition in some quarters to the introduction of Medicare 35 years ago—something that voters would not do without today.

‘We call on all parties to bring on the reforms needed for properly coordinated and integrated care during the term of the next Parliament’, Ms Verhoeven said.

To follow AHHA commentary throughout the election campaign, visit www.ahha.asn.au/election

Media enquiries:  Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, AHHA

0403 282 501