Call for clearer vision on Medical Homes

3 minute read

With the “medical homes” trials set to begin next year, concerns are growing over a lack of definition


With the “medical homes” trials set to begin next year, concerns are growing over a lack of definition.

The RACGP is urging the government to make proper preparations for the initiative, which is intended to drive a radical shake-up of primary care with trials to start next year.

It calls for a “clear and shared vision”, realistic definitions and sustainable funding for the program that Federal Health Minister Sussan Ley has described as a centrepiece of Medicare reform.

The college has been collaborating with the Consumers Health Forum and two leading health think tanks, the George Institute and the Menzies Centre for Health Policy, to map out a workable plan for the vague aspirations adopted by the government earlier this year.

“The whole idea was to get some boundaries around (the concept),” RACGP President Frank Jones told TMR.

Trials are already under way at six PHNs around the country, aimed at improving health outcomes and efficiencies in treating chronic disease through co-ordinated multi-disciplinary care of patients enrolled at general practices or “medical homes”.

But the “healthcare homes” trials promised by Minister Ley will not begin until mid-2017 involving up to 200 general practices and 65,000 patients.

“First of all, we need to know the design of these (national) trials, if it’s fit for purpose, and we need to elicit what the expectations of our community are,” Dr Jones said.

“My concern is, how do we bring all the data together in two or three years?”

Unless the preparation is properly funded, it would be impossible to build the necessary evidence base for the proposed “seismic shift in health policy”, including a move from fee-for-service to block funding..

“We think $100,000 per practice is what we are looking at to make this trial work, for the design, implementation and critical appraisal,” Dr Jones said.

“If the trials are underfunded, we will have egg on our face.”

A report released last week by the four parties says the new model should cater for all patients, not just those with chronic and complex conditions, and should push new efficiencies by funding electronic communications with patients.

It emphasises the need for an effective communications strategy, warning the program’s success will demand shifts in expectations by clinicians and patients, including added attention to preventive care and more involvement by allied health.

The government is expected shortly to announce the seven PHNs where the national trials will be held.

The report – Patient-Centred Healthcare Homes in Australia: Towards Successful Implementation – can be found HERE.



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