The devil is in the detail

Details lacking from primary care reform plan

While most health stakeholders have given support to the Federal governments new primary care reform package, concerns have been raised about its lack of detail.

The AMA in particular says it wants to hear more from the government on how the program will be implemented, as detail was lacking in the initial announcement by Health Minister Sussan Ley.

“How will the changes impact on existing Medicare Chronic Disease funding? How will the Health Care Homes funding be administered and structured?,” asks AMA national president Professor Brian Owler.

“What is the role of Primary Health Networks? What are the eligibility criteria for patients? What is the timing of the trial and the potential national rollout of the package?”

Professor Owler said the major missing piece from today’s announcement is the amount and nature of funding for Health Care Homes in the trial period and beyond.

“We need to know if the Government is backing today’s announcement with additional funds to support patient access to care, and how much over what period,” he said.

PSA national president Joe Demarte has called for a central role for pharmacists in the proposed chronic care teams outlined in the proposals.

The Government’s new ‘Health Care Homes’ trial – part of the Healthier Medicare package – will coordinate all medical and allied health professionals, including pharmacists, as part of a patient’s tailored care plan.

Demarte said pharmacists welcomed the Government’s announcement and supported the concept of a patient-centred Health Care Home, especially for patients with chronic disease.

“Team-based models of primary care have shown to be effective in response to growing health system demands created by increasingly complex patients. PSA has previously highlighted evidence showing pharmacist interventions for consumers with chronic disease improve health outcomes and reduce misuse of medication.

“Pharmacists are an essential member of the primary health care team for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the health system,” he said.

Kristin Michaels, the CEO of the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA) said the ‘Health Care Homes’ initiative paved the way for better coordination of care, better outcomes for patients with chronic disease, reduced hospital admissions and potential cost savings.

“SHPA has previously advocated for the patient-centred medical home care model and this trial is a step in the right direction. Any initiative that paves the way for better chronic disease management through collaborative models of care is worth considering,” she said.

“International evidence shows that countries with a strong primary care system are efficient, and deliver better outcomes for patients, but this requires investment.

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