Tuesday, May 29, 2012

4th International Primary Health Care Reform Conference

In March this year, HCCA consumer representative Joanne Baumgartner attended the 4th International Primary Health Care ReformConference in Brisbane.  The conference had an array of interesting speakers, including Professor Martin Roland from the University of Cambridge; Dr Paul Grundy of IBM; and Rosie Rowe from the Western District Health Service in Victoria. 

Professor Roland discussed the financial incentives for clinician performance in the United Kingdom, comparing this to the Australian model, which he felt was superior.  He concluded that appropriate salaries and training for the medical workforce has a positive impact in terms of addressing gaps in quality of care.  

Dr Grundy heads up IBM’s Global Well Being Services and Health Benefits system.  IBM’s system was first implemented in 1999, and centrally links the company's occupational medicine, safety, industrial hygiene, wellness and health benefits strategic initiatives.  As part of its work, the IBM service lobbies government for the construction of community health facilities in areas where the company operates.  Dr Grundy identified Denmark as the exemplar of global primary care, as each patient has an ongoing GP.  The importance of continuity of care was a theme echoed throughout the conference. 

Rosie Rowe presented a paper entitled “System integration to enhance coordination of care for people with chronic and complex needs”, which examined consumer involvement by those with chronic conditions in the operations of health services in the Grampians region of Victoria.  The results presented aligned well with the ACT experience of consumer involvement and improving the quality of care provided to patients.

Other international speakers hailed from Hong Kong and Singapore.  The research presented by these speakers focussed on consumer involvement in primary care practices, and while the results were interesting, it was clear that consumers are not engaged in the process to the same extent as they are in Australia.  Consumers are not active participants in these kinds of quality improvement or research initiatives in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Another theme addressed during the conference was the role of Practice Nurses.  Presenting clinicians generally believed that Practice Nurses were an asset to primary care, but conceded that because many medical practitioners were unused to utilising nurses to their full capacity, they were being given only simple tasks to perform.  Some practitioners were identified as reluctant to relinquish tasks such as taking blood pressure to Practice Nurses.  However, on the whole clinicians were positive about the prospects of multidisciplinary teams including nurses, physiotherapists and social workers, to provide the best treatment.

Adapted from Joanne Baumgartner's report to HCCA.

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