Around the world there is growing emphasis on making health systems more integrated and efficient and Australia is no exception with changes and reforms an ongoing part of healthcare life. Given the changing landscape, Western Queensland Primary Health Network (WQPHN) have taken a proactive approach to leading change through the development of a model of care that is unique to Western Queensland.
The Western Queensland Health Care Home (WQ HCH) Model of Care has emerged from the Patient Centred Medical Homes (PCMH) model from the US, UK and New Zealand and modified based on feedback from the Ernst and Young consultation and review undertaken in Western Queensland in 2017 and feedback from WQ HCH Working Group.
Nationally, Commonwealth and State government coordinated care reforms are clearly centred on improving patient health outcomes and reducing avoidable demand for health services. The policy context points to a new landscape for primary care that is based on team based coordinated and connected care that is underpinned by principles of patient-centred care.
Western Queensland populations face additional challenges compared to city counterparts with higher chronic disease prevalence, fragile service provider networks, higher health care costs and challenges in accessing timely care. Severe yet reducible health inequalities have persisted for decades in some ‘hot spots’ and more needs to be done to address these challenges.
The WQ HCH provides a platform to better integrate the Western Queensland health system, break down silos of care, and firmly focus on outcomes for consumers. It provides a framework through which to collaborate, co-design with service providers, clinicians and consumers, and achieve a greater team-based care approach. The case for change is urgent and reinforced from feedback from practices and in our review of national and international literature.
Implementing the WQ HCH Model of Care provides practices with the opportunity to implement refined ways of working within their practice and in their interactions with the broader health system that will make them even stronger, regardless of where they are starting from.
During 2017 WQPHN consulted stakeholders across their catchment (and beyond) to consider how best to commission Health Care Home (HCH) principles within the Western Queensland context. This was supported by the Maranoa Accord which aimed to support an appropriate framework through which to deliver a comprehensive primary health care strategy for Western Queensland. Informed by the consultation, and the review of national and international models and evidence, the WQ HCH model clearly demonstrated the greatest contemporary framework through which to build the capacity and capability of general practice networks within Western Queensland.
The Australian Government’s policy environment creates a new landscape for primary care that is based on coordinated care through the announcement of the Health Care Homes Stage 1 Implementation and the Healthier Medicare initiative. Our region and PHN were not included in the stage 1 implementation, however given the policy environment, extensive consultation across the region and strengths of the HCH model, it was determined that a WQ HCH model of care be developed, and tailored to the unique features of Western Queensland.
To learn more about the challenges, opportunities and policy implications ahead click below to hear from Professor Claire Jackson from the Mater Research Institute-University of Queensland. Professor Jackson, a GP herself is also a member of the WQ HCH Working Group and part of the team responsible for evaluating the WQ HCH transformation journey.