Integrated Health Groups for primary care
Recently I presented an overview of the policy context and opportunities for primary care in Australia to the West Australian Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA). I've put a link to an edited version of the presentation here.
The presentation highlights the dramatic rise in the importance of chronic disease for primary and community services and the rising community expectation that services will be available to support people at home and in the community.
Social change has put pressure on informal care and support provided by families. Not surprisingly there has been a dramatic expansion of primary and community care services in an attempt to fill the gap. But these services are fragmented, siloed reactive and patchy in their distribution.
There needs to be much more emphasis on comprehensive, integrated care available after hours and at home. In particular, services need to much more proactive and focused on prevention, early intervention and the ongoing support of people with complex conditions.
The presentation suggests a new form of organisation for primary care: Integrated Health Groups. These groups would bring together general practice, pharmacy, nursing and allied health for populations of around 30,000 to 50,000 people. Big enough to have the scale to provide the staff, systems and coordination for integrated care and small enough for maintain relationships between providers, patients and the community.