The Australian health care system is high performing and works well for most people, however, in common with a number of developed nations, Australia is experiencing increasing rates of chronic and complex conditions, which challenges the current primary health care system and its connection to secondary care. These challenges, as well as some others that are unique to Australia, need to be addressed to ensure the health system remains sustainable into the future.
There are a range of reforms underway that are aimed at strengthening the primary health care system, many of which are relevant to the implementation of Health Care Homes. These comprise: a review of the Medical Benefits Schedule; the roll out of the My Health Record; Practice Incentives Program; Primary Health Networks; and enhanced coordinated care for patients with chronic and complex conditions.
The stage one trial of the Health Care Home model is a central part of these reforms to the primary health care system. This model aims to deliver more effective care and reduce demand on the acute care sector for chronically ill patients. The model builds on past initiatives and international experience and is expected to deliver benefits to patients, providers and the system as a whole.
Participating general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services will have a vital role in shaping future stages of this vital reform, which at its core is patient centred, coordinated and flexible.
Together, these reforms will enable progress towards a health system that: improves patient outcomes; provides for well-integrated and efficient services that are targeted towards those in greatest need; and addresses gaps in service delivery. They will also derive increased value from government investment in health care and improve the overall sustainability of the health system.