Rural & Remote communities to get better chronic care

The Turnbull Government’s revolutionary Healthier Medicare reform package, announced today, will provide people living with chronic and complex conditions in rural and remote communities with care better tailored to their needs.

Today’s announcement is the Turnbull Government’s response to the Primary Health Care Advisory Group’s (PHCAG) review of the management of chronic and complex conditions by Australia’s primary health care system.

In their report to the Government, Better Outcomes for People with Chronic and Complex Health Conditions, PHCAG noted:

“Coordination of care remains a challenge in many rural practices. Increasing care continuity for high needs patients through enrolment in the Health Care Home and increasing communications between health care providers through more effective use of digital health records holds considerable promise for the delivery of care in rural communities.”

Accordingly, the Government has today announced the adoption of the Health Care Home model of care to tackle the growing challenge posed by chronic and complex conditions. Health Care Homes will help patients to find and access the health care services that they need, when they need them.

They will also simplify a chronically ill patient’s care by allowing them to nominate one general practice as their ‘home base’ for the coordination of their care needs on an ongoing basis.

The Health Care Home will also focus on educating patients in regional and remote communities on their health conditions to provide them with the knowledge, skills and confidence to manage their day to day care. Better education will also enable patients to be more active participants in decisions made about the care that they receive.

Many aspects of the Health Care Home model are already in place in rural and remote general practices and community controlled health services across the country to help bridge the unique service gaps they face every day. This initiative will support them to formalise this model of care and build on these innovative local solutions.

While people living in regional and remote communities have a higher burden of disease they generally have poorer access to health services. In 2013-14, nearly one in three people living in outer regional, remote or very remote areas waited longer than they felt acceptable to get an appointment with a GP compared with just over one in five in major cities. These patients were more likely than people living in major cities to attend an emergency department to receive care as a consequence of not being able to access a GP when required.

To improve access to health services for people with chronic conditions in regional communities, the Government has unveiled flexible funding arrangements that make it possible for patients to connect with their GP and health care team in ways not previously available through Medicare.

Flexible funding will also support health providers to adopt new health care innovations such as the use of remote monitoring devices to stay on top of a patient’s condition.

The changes announced today are part of a broader strategic approach to health care reform designed to tailor health care services to the needs of local populations and to redress inequities in care faced by regional and remote communities.

On 1 July 2015, the Government established Primary Healthcare Networks (PHN) to work with local communities to identify gaps in health care services. Flexible funding provided to PHNs enables them to commission services to address these unmet service needs.

The Government has also committed to expanding the rural health care workforce through the introduction of the Integrated Rural Training Pipeline (IRTP) measure and the creation of an additional 300 training positions under the Australian General Practice Training Programme.

Today’s announcement reflects the Turnbull Government’s commitment to investment in regional communities and to work with health providers and the public to improve health outcomes for all Australians.

Read 1198 times

About Author

Related items

  • My Health Record gets one million more reasons to sign up

    The number of Australians with a digital health record will jump by more than a million – or 40 per cent – as part of the Turnbull Government’s commitment to improving health outcomes and saving lives through digital innovation and information sharing.

    Minister for Health Sussan Ley today officially launched the Turnbull Government’s new My Health Record, which will give both patients and health professionals immediate access to all of their necessary health information on-line to improve co-ordinated care outcomes, reduce duplication and provide vital information in emergency situations.

    This will include trialling the automatic creation of electronic health records for more-than one million residents in Western Sydney and North Queensland, to improve coverage rates after the previous Labor Government’s preference to allow patients to opt-in, rather than opt-out, led to less-than one-in-10 Australians signing up.

    Ms Ley said the Turnbull Government had particularly focussed on protecting patient privacy as part of the new My Health Record, passing supporting legislation mandating fines of up to half a million dollars and even jail sentences for anyone who tries to deliberately misuse or access information in the health record.

    “It’s important Australians are able to have access to their medical records and safely and securely share them with health professionals no matter where they are in the country if we are to truly improve clinical outcomes and efficiency,” Ms Ley said.

    “Our new My Health Record means people will not have to remember the names of the medications prescribed, details of diagnosis and treatments, allergies, medical procedures and there will be no need to repeat the same information when they see another doctor or go to hospital.

    “I consider this a landmark turning point in improving our health system and bringing it into the 21st century.”

    The Turnbull Government’s new My Health Record is part of a $485 million Budget rescue package to salvage Labor’s failed attempts to develop a national electronic health records system in Government, with the decision to transform the system from opt-in to opt-out a key recommendation of an independent review of Labor’s scheme.

    Under the trial, patients will be able to share vital health information securely online, at any time, with authorised healthcare providers, such as doctors, pharmacists, specialists, hospitals or allied health professionals.

    However, Ms Ley said patients would have ultimate control over who accessed their information, including adding additional password protections.

    “Doctors have indicated they’re much more likely to use the system if all their patients have a record,” Ms Ley said.

    “We also need full national coverage if we’re to cut down on inefficiencies created by not having one seamless records system, such as double ups with testing, prescriptions and other procedures.

    “The Turnbull Government takes privacy very seriously and we have put in place the necessary protections to ensure the information in your My Health Record is as safe and secure as possible. Trialling the implementation of the new opt-out system is about reassuring the public they can have confidence in our new My Health Record.”

    Ms Ley said a life-saving “break-glass option” was included in the new My Health Record, allowing patients to have maximum security protections whilst also not having to worry about blocking access to their vital information in medical emergencies such as anaphylaxis, heart attacks, stroke or accidents where a patient is unconscious.

    Residents in the Northern Queensland Primary Health Network and Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network will shortly be receiving a letter informing them of the trial and telling them how they can opt out if they choose. By mid-June 2016 residents participating will be able to change their access controls to the record, ahead of their doctor accessing the My Health Record in mid-July 2016.

    Key Facts and Features:

    · $485 million over three years – the first time a Government has committed multiple years of funding to assist the roll out of this important system.
    · 2.6 million Australians already have a record
    · This will instantly increase to 3.6 million, as a result of these trials – a 40 per cent increase.
    · The additional one million users co-opted into the system include about:
    o 360,000 residents in the Nepean region of Western Sydney (Nepean Blue Mountains PHN).
    o 700,000 residents in North Queensland (North Queensland PHN – covering Mackay up to Cape York/Torres Strait)
    · Nearly 8,000 healthcare providers are registered to use it
    · The new My Health Record seamlessly connects with GP and hospital systems
    · Redesigned user interface - easier to navigate online platform
    · New GP training and incentives
    · Stronger privacy controls for YOUR My Health Record:
    o Password protection
    o Lock down access to specific GPs or hospitals
    o View every person who has opened the record
    o Delete files that are unwanted
    o New criminal penalties for deliberate misuse
    o Fines up to half a million dollars per breach for deliberate misuse or access
    · If all Australians are signed up to a functioning My Health Record, it is estimated that it could save 5,000 lives per year and could help avoid:
    o 2 million primary care and outpatient visits
    o 500,000 emergency department visits
    o 310,000 hospital admissions
    · Potentially, $7.6 billion annual savings and improved value and efficiency in healthcare expenditures by 2020 could also be achieved by reducing medical duplication and adverse events. For example:
    o Around 10.4% of patients every year treated by a GP will have an adverse drug event
    o As many as 18,000 Australians die each year as a result of adverse drug events
    o With My Health Record patients receive better care, and therefore forecast to save $2.8 billion annually through reduction of medical errors

Login to post comments