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Think tank backs primary care organisations

The coordination of patient care has not been addressed in the current policies, according to AHHA.

Regional community and primary healthcare organisations should be established and funded by the federal government, according to a policy think tank held by the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).

The think tank involved more than 60 people from primary and community health services across Australia and developed recommendations for the incoming federal government on progressing reforms in primary and community care.

A key recommendation was the establishment of local primary care organisations which would be funded according to the needs of their populations, with additional loadings for any special needs.

“These organisations would coordinate the health services of patients across the health sector. They would also play an important role in public health and prevention, thereby working to reduce health inequalities in their communities,” Prue Power, AHHA executive director, said.

“AHHA, along with other participants, is concerned that coordination of patient care has not been addressed in the current policies of the two major political parties. Recommendations to address this issue include: sharing of patient information supported by an electronic health record; establishing a single point of access to services; and developing and implementing guidelines for care pathways to foster multidisciplinary care.

The boundaries of these organisations would align with those of Hospital Networks to facilitate seamless patient care between primary and hospital care, the think tank recommended. The community and primary healthcare organisations would also work with other sectors such as aged care and mental health sector to coordinate the care of patients.

“In relation to rural health, the think tank called for a commitment from government to a rural health plan, including implementation of a fast broadband internet system and allocation of a fair share of infrastructure funding. Participants also called for bipartisan support to ensure the gross inequities in Indigenous health are rectified,” Power said.

“Funding hospital-type patients in the community in preference to increasing the number of hospitals beds was recommended to reflect the emerging trend to care for more acutely ill patients in their homes as an alternative to hospital care.

“Community health and general practices have always worked closely together in regional Australia.”

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