Health Care and Wellness
Already home to one of the world’s healthiest older populations, Australia still grapples with how to the respond to the rise of chronic diseases and demand for long-term care (LTC). The government has responded with a focus on enabling older adults to have access to integrated care. This person-centered approach is also adopted in the government’s recent reforms in the LTC system, as it aims to provide consumer-directed care and enhance older adults’ choices of providers.
As of 2016, an average adult at 60 was expected to live another 25.6 years—the fourth highest in the world (after Japan, France, and Canada); the average healthspan was 20.4 years, fifth globally (after Singapore, Japan, France, and Canada).
Source: WHO Global Health Observatory data repository
Health Care Home
In 2017, the government introduced a National Strategic Framework for Chronic Conditions, built on consultations with a broad spectrum of stakeholders. The Framework emphasizes a shift from a disease-specific approach to a systematic, person-centered approach and promotes coordinated care across the health sector. Aligned with this emphasis, one model the government started to experiment with in 2017 is a Health Care Home (HCH). In an HCH, eligible individuals enroll with a participating general practitioner (GP), who will coordinate all their chronic disease management and facilitate their access to integrated care tailored to their needs. GPs will receive a bundled payment between AUD 591 and 1,795 (USD 425-1,291) per year, based on their assessment of a patient’s needs. Together with the patient, the GP will develop a care plan, including:
- Compiling comprehensive information about the patient’s health, medications, and all the health professionals who care for them;
- Identifying local health care providers that are best able to meet the patient’s needs, and helping coordinate care with these providers;
- Developing strategies to help the patient to manage their chronic conditions in daily life.
The HCH model is currently in trials in 10 selected primary health network regions, and more than 170 general practices (including medical centers, clinics, and other general practice providers) have participated. The trial phase will run through November 2019, at which time it will be evaluated to determine the impact of the new approach on patients’ health, hospitalization, and costs.