Health Care Homes hailed as life-saving for patients: RACGP

05 April, 2016

The Federal Government's announcement to pilot Health Care Homes in Australia will have life-changing benefits to patients, particularly those with chronic, long-term conditions, according to the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

Creating a formal and regular link between a patient and their GP, Health Care Homes closely aligns with the medical home concept, which has long been called for by the RACGP, and formed the basis of its Vision for general practice and a sustainable healthcare system, launched in September 2015.

RACGP President Dr Frank R Jones heralded the move as a 'great win for patients, providers, and funders', and congratulated the Federal Government for listening to the RACGP's calls to implement the medical home model in Australia.

'The RACGP applauds the Federal Government and Health Minister Sussan Ley for taking the RACGP's advice on board and tackling the growing burden of chronic disease,' Dr Jones said.

'The Health Care Homes pilot is aimed at patients with chronic disease requiring a high level of support, and will involve up to 200 practices across Australia - from metro to remote communities.

'As the academic college for general practice, it is vital the RACGP is involved in the stratification of pilot practices, to ensure we get a representative mix.

'We also need to ensure that there is robust evaluation of the pilot, with the involvement and leadership of the RACGP.'

Dr Jones said a number of finer details would need to be addressed, including the use of the MyHealth Record system, which still has a range of usability issues, and how data collection, reporting and benchmarking would occur.

The model will see primary healthcare retain a fee-for-service model, with top-up funding paid quarterly to support coordination and integration of care – enabling patients with chronic disease to receive integrated care across healthcare settings.

Dr Jones said the medical home would:

  • increase access to health services

  • decrease use of services used inappropriately (particularly emergency departments and avoidable admissions)

  • increase provision of preventive services

  • improve patient care and experience, and

  • reduce health system costs for funders.

'There is strong evidence to prove that patients who have a continuous relationship with their GP and home practice receive higher quality preventive care and have better health outcomes,' Dr Jones said.