In a discussion paper released on Tuesday, August 4, 2015 by the Federal Health Minister, The Hon Sussan Ley MP, chronic health, primary health providers and health system reform were put on the agenda.

Developed by the Primary Health Care Advisory Group (PHCAG), which is headed by former AMA president, Steve Hambleton, the discussion paper is titled ‘Better outcomes for people living with Chronic and Complex Health Conditions through Primary Health Care,’ and is broken into four key themes:

  1. Effective and appropriate patient care
  2. Increased use of technology
  3. How do we know we are achieving outcomes?
  4. How do we establish suitable payment mechanisms to support a better Primary Health Care System?

Reflecting on the paper and the four themes, Pharmacy Daily (PD) reports, “The discussion paper suggests a range of possibilities such as enrolling patients to a single provider who would coordinate multi-disciplinary care, setting chronic disease payments for a defined package of care rather than remuneration for individual services and adopting international methods of best practice.”

In its introduction, the paper outlines that Australian’s are living, on average 25 years longer than we were a century ago.

However, due to the increased life expectancy, Australia is faced with a new problem of an increase in chronic disease, including heart disease, diabetes, cancers, respiratory disease and mental illness, which make up the leading causes of death and disability in Australia.

It continues on to say that despite having a “strong health system that is supported by a highly trained and dedicated workforce,” that our current health care system is not set up to effectively manage long term (chronic) health conditions.

Hence the purpose of the discussion paper.

Further to the paper, the PHCAG will conduct an online survey, which will launch today, August 6, 2015, and will conduct public sessions in major cities and regional areas throughout the country.

On Friday, August 21, the advisory group will host a nationwide webcast, and following the consultation period, and collecting survey results, the PHCAG will develop its specific recommendations on how to “deliver a healthier Medicare,” to be announced before the end of the year.

The PHCAG was developed as the advisory group to the Medicare Benefits Schedule Review Taskforce, through the Government’s Healthier Medicare Initiative, and invites all Australians to contribute to the broad reform process to deliver a healthier Medicare.

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