We need better coordinated healthcare. Should we look across ‘the ditch’ for inspiration?

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

‘Innovations and lessons learned by our New Zealand neighbours could help Australia provide better coordinated healthcare across our hospitals and general practice, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven said today.

AHHA’s Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research has released a Perspectives Brief, Funds pooling in Australia: could alliance contracting hold the key? by two renowned primary care experts Professor Claire Jackson (University of Queensland) and Professor Robin Gauld, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Commerce) at the University of Otago, New Zealand.

‘Alliance contracting in New Zealand involves locally-based hospital boards and primary care organisations pooling their funds, and together making clinically-led health system decisions at a local level in the interests of patients, rather than their own particular institution or sector’, Ms Verhoeven said.

‘Typically, an Alliance could agree that, clinically, a particular type of healthcare is better provided in the community rather than at its current location within the local hospital.

‘Other benefits of the proposed change might include a more financially efficient system as a whole, and a lower cost for the patients involved.

‘Funds allocated from the pool would, in this case, enable the establishment of appropriate infrastructure, staffing and “upskilling” if needed’, Ms Verhoeven said.

An interesting future expectation is that the model will also incorporate social services.

‘There is no doubt that, like many other countries around the world, we need new approaches to providing quality healthcare for an ageing population with complex chronic conditions and potentially high costs’, Ms Verhoeven said.

‘This is something we have raised very prominently in our own Healthy people, healthy systems blueprint for healthcare in Australia.

‘Our system in Australia, unfortunately, not only involves a care divide between hospitals and primary care, it also involves a division in responsibilities, where the states and territories look after public hospitals and the Commonwealth oversees primary care.’

The Deeble Perspectives Brief authors state that ‘care in the future will be by necessity increasingly patient-and family-centred, and leverage a growing awareness of the importance of patient engagement, community care, digital access, and the under-recognition of social isolation and mental health as drivers in health care outcomes’.

The authors also acknowledge that pursuing a New Zealand-style model of regional governance in Australia will require significant cultural change and new forms of clinical and executive leadership.

‘We could do well to look more closely at what is happening in New Zealand, and the suggestions in our own blueprint’, Ms Verhoeven said.

‘Both emphasise better coordinated locally-led solutions in the interests of patients, with pooled funding arrangements.’


Funds pooling in Australia: could alliance contracting hold the key? is available here.

The Healthy people, healthy systems blueprint is available at https://ahha.asn.au/Blueprint

More information about the AHHA is available at ahha.asn.au

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, and community and primary healthcare services.

Media enquiries:  Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association

0403 282 501