Land mark study should show way to better care for chronically ill.

A land mark study of the fragmented primary health care system comes at a pivotal time for millions of chronically ill Australians, the Consumers Health Forum (CHF) says. “We welcome this national survey to assess consumer experience of coordination of health care announced today by the National Health Performance Authority,” CHF’s spokesman, Mark Metherell, said.

“It comes at a time when the Federal Government has announced trials of coordinated care for people with complex and chronic conditions, and as the new Primary Health Networks establish themselves as the central players in provision of chronic care services.

“This Performance Authority project will invite 125,000 people aged 45 and over to respond to a survey about the coordination and continuity of their health care. The results should highlight where the gaps are in services and how we can provide more effective services. “We know that coordinated and integrated care for people with multiple chronic conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer can make a huge difference to consumers and to the health budget in keeping people out of hospital.

“With 20 per cent of Australians living with two or more chronic condition, and an ageing population, it is more important than ever that we have a health system that delivers the right mix of care services. “But as the Government- appointed Primary Health Care Advisory Group reported to the Health Minister, Sussan Ley, primary health care services for these patients “can be fragmented and often poorly linked” with other parts of the health system.

“For the first time, a survey of this scale will, with the consent of participants, enable analysis of individuals’ use of Medicare, prescription medicines and hospitals. This in-depth information promises to yield stronger insights than hitherto available into the impact of varying levels of coordinated care.

“One of the great gaps in Australian health services has been the lack of solid information into what works and what doesn’t in the health system--- a disturbing state of affairs when we consider the crucial role that evidence should play, and the $150 billion a year that we spend on health,” Mr Metherell said.