In Australia and internationally the health care system is challenged by increasing demand on all care sectors, an aging population with a growing incidence of chronic and complex conditions, higher expectations by consumers, and an ageing health workforce. There is an increasing recognition that primary care has a key role to play in addressing these challenges, but in order to do so models of primary care must adapt and change.
In December 2015, the Department of Health’s Primary Health Care Advisory Group (PHCAG) provided a report to the Australian Government –Better Outcomes for People with Chronic and Complex Health Conditions, with a key recommendation that Health Care Homes (HCH) be established as a model of care.
Health Care Homes are a model of practice that build comprehensive and co-ordinated care planning, delivery and treatment around the patient, using multidisciplinary care teams within General Practice, all working to the full scope of their practice and offering alternate models of care delivery to match patient needs and preferences.
The PHCAG recommendations provided a vision and direction for the HCH but the PHCAG was not tasked with developing an implementation strategy. As part of its recommendations for stage one of implementation the PHCAG stated “... Health Care Homes are new in an Australian context, and would benefit from refinement best achieved through further implementation design, establishment, evaluation and adjustment, prior to rolling out nationally.”
In the May 2016 Budget the Australian Government announced funding for a first stage of the Health Care Home. From July 2017 up to 65,000 patients should beable to voluntarily enrol in a trial of Health Care Homes in up to 200 practices across 7 Primary Health Network regions. The trial will be reviewed after two years.
Few further details have been released, and nothing on the details of how the scheme will be implemented.
On the 12th July 2016, the Consumers Health Forum of Australia, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), the Menzies Centre for Health Policy and The George Institute for Global Health hosted a Roundtable in Melbourne. The Roundtable discussed the patient-centred health care home model (PCHCH) and developed consensus principles to guide implementation in the Australian context.
The outcomes of the Roundtable are intended to provide a seminal contribution to future debate on building patient-centred care, by developing principles for implementation of the Australian PCHCH that have the backing of consumers, clinicians, peak bodies and researchers. Roundtable participants were acknowledged lead thinkers in primary health care reform and those with “skin in the game”.
The Roundtable included representation from Universities, General Practice, Primary Health Networks (PHN), the private health insurance industry and consumer and professional peak bodies. A full list of participants is included on page 18. This report summarises the outcomes of the Roundtable.