In Consultation

The IPN blog for healthcare professionals.

  • The Future of General Practice

    Dr Ged Foley
    Posted by on 20 Sep 2016

    A great deal has been said about the future of General Practice in the last 12 months with new models of care, revamped Medicare pay mechanisms, voluntary patient registrations, care teams and electronic medical records all thrown into the discussion. This has culminated into the concept of the “Health Care Home” approach that was announced by the Health Minister recently.

    This concept picks up the initiative from various OECD countries (often referred to as the ‘Medical Home’ or ‘Patient Centred Medical Home’) and proposes to establish a GP led model of care that delivers a high-quality, integrated and cost-efficient approach to patient care.

    As part of the government’s announcement, it is envisaged that Health Care Homes will allow patients to nominate a GP practice as their ‘home base’, where they will have an opportunity to access specific care packages, allowing them to take better control of their future care – simplifying the overall management.

    Up to 65,000 Australians will participate in the two-year trial of Health Care Homes during the initial trial phase and be limited to Medicare-eligible patients with two or more complex or chronic conditions. The aim of a successful Health Care Home model is to keep patients well and out of hospital by providing continuity of care, coordinated services and a team approach based on the particular needs of the patient.

    With this in mind, IPN invited key leaders, some of who have been at the forefront of driving this agenda with the government, to our recent event in Perth to discuss with every day GPs, what this means for them and their patients and how we see this progressing in a sustainable manner. Key speakers and panellists included Dr Steve Hambleton, Dr Eleanor Chew, Dr Richard Choong, and Professor Bernard Pearne-Rowe. These experts provided an overview of the government’s approach and answered questions from the floor. The evening was supported by Sonic Clinical Services and IPN and provided useful insight into understanding the complex nature of what’s to come. It was interesting to note that when asked, less than 5% of attendants were planning to participate in the national trial, highlighting that there is a degree of uncertainty and perhaps even a level of mistrust in the government’s approach. This may be explained by the consideration that the details released to date remain sketchy and the trial does carry the usual “must be cost-neutral to Medicare” caveat - inevitably challenging in a trial environment.

    From IPN’s perspective, we are preparing our business and practices to meet the challenges of the future, to ensure doctors, staff and systems are prepared for the transition to different models of funding and care which, while unclear at present, are inevitable. In particular, IPN noted that we would be running our own demonstration clinic trials across north Sydney to ensure we have the practice and technology systems, business models and staff resources to ensure we are able to lead this transition to an efficient, patient centric care model in the future.