Minister Plibersek Supports ‘Patient Centred Medical Home’ Model

By Ryan Mccann
Wednesday, 27 March, 2013


The Minister for Health and Ageing, The Hon. Tanya Plibersek, has reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to exploring key elements of general practice as the Patient-Centred Medical Home (PCMH).
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)’s view of the ‘Medical Home’ concept puts the general practitioner (GP) at the centre of coordinated, integrated and whole-person care delivery, and is driven by improved health outcomes, reduced hospital admissions and lower healthcare costs.
Minister Plibersek announced the Government will be testing certain elements of the Patient-Centred Medical Home model with a small group of Australian experts, then moving to broader consultations.
Attending the annual conference of General Practice Registrars Australia (GPRA), Breathing New Life into General Practice, Minister Plibersek emphasised the Government’s commitment to shifting its focus from tertiary healthcare, towards the primary healthcare sector.
In her speech to the future GP workforce and GP leaders, including Dr Liz Marles, RACGP President, Dr Ed Vergara, Chair of GPRA, Dr Steve Hambleton, President of the Australian Medical Association, and Professor Richard Murray, President of the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, Minister Plibersek noted international evidence showing health systems with strong primary healthcare are more efficient, have lower rates of hospitalisation, fewer health inequalities and better health outcomes.
Dr Liz Marles said the RACGP was pleased to see the Government taking tangible steps to recognise the central role of general practitioners in coordinating patient care.
“On one level this seems something new, but it is really about recognising what many GPs are already doing in providing high-quality general practice."
Minister Plibersek referenced the Commonwealth Fund 2007 survey, showing 87% of Australians who had a medical home, defined as having a ‘regular provider who knows you, is easy to contact and who coordinates your care’ rated the care they received as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ compared with only 60% of those who did not have a medical home.
“As general practitioners have been saying for years, having an established and ongoing relationship with a GP should not be underestimated and can prove highly beneficial to patient health outcomes.”
“The RACGP has long advocated for increased recognition and support for GPs as coordinators of care. Increased funding and support for GPs will strengthen the provision of patient-centred, continuing and coordinated care over an extended period of time. A move to such a system would assist with disease prevention and health promotion, while improving healthcare efficiency and reducing overall healthcare costs,” Dr Marles concluded.
The RACGP looks forward to further discussions with the Minister as to how the PCMH model, if implemented with the support of the profession, will lead to the many benefits already being experienced by Australia’s international counter-parts.

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