From 1 July 2015, Medicare Locals will be replaced by Primary Health Networks (PHNs). Key challenges for PHNs across six priority areas identified by Health Minister Sussan Ley in April 2015 are outlined in PHN Discussion Papers.
PHN Discussion Paper #1 - Primary Health Network Critical Success Factors: PHNs must reflect on the lessons learnt from previous organised primary health care models in Australia to provide better value for money; improve population health outcomes; respond to the increasing chronic disease burden; address health system fragmentation; and improve service accessibility.
PHN Discussion Paper #2 - Mental Health: This paper explores how PHNs can improve mental heatlh outcomes by adotping a person-centred approach in service design and enabling integration across service providers in local health systems, as well as looking at the challenges PHNs will have to overcome in order to do so.
PHN Discussion Paper #3 - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health: PHNs have a key role to play in reducing the disparity between health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the rest of the community. This paper examines the lessons PHNs can learn from Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and Aboriginal Medical Services, as well as the experiences of Medicare Locals and Divisions of General Practice.
PHN Discussion Paper #4 - Population health: Population Health proposes a holistic view of population health, that interconnects primary care practices, infrastructure, workforce, data, technologies, and relationships. PHNs are well-placed to effect positive change in their communities, and their ability to adopt and apply population health based planning and programming will determine their success, or otherwise.
PHN Discussion Paper #5 - Health Workforce: PHNs face the significant challenge of ensuring a flexible, high quality and productive health workforce in Australia. Key objectives for PHNs must be improving access to services, increasing workforce capacity and capability, and boosting productivity.
PHN Discussion Paper #6 - eHealth: Sharing information between systems, indentifying and addressing the barriers to clinician and patient participation, and playing a role in the development of the Commonwealth Government's My Health Record, are all ways in which PHNs can support the development of eHealth.
PHN Discussion Paper #7 - Aged Care: Effective PHN responses to the weaknesses in the current aged care system will support and enable the development of a system wherein consumers, the health and aged care sectors work as partners to provice quality, affordable, timely and holistic care for older Australians.
AHHA supported the publication of a book Leading Change in Primary Care: Boards of Primary Health Networks Can Help Improve the Australian Health Care System which draws on the experience of the authors, who were on or associated with the board of the Northern Melbourne Medicare Local (NMML). The book explores how PHN boards can bring about meaningful reform in the primary health system. It is available for download from the AHHA website.