[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Coordination of care is considered a key component of patient-centered health care systems, but is rarely defined or operationalised in health care policy. Continuity, an aspect of coordination, is the patient’s experience of care over time, and is often described in terms of three dimensions: information, relational and management continuity. With the current health policy focus on both the use of information technology and care coordination, this study aimed to 1) explore how information continuity supports coordination and 2) investigate conditions required to support information continuity.
Four diverse Australian primary health care initiatives were purposively selected for inclusion in the study. Each has improved coordination as an aim or fundamental principle. Each organization was asked to identify practitioners, managers and decision makers who could provide insight into the use of information for care coordination to participate in the study. Using in-depth semi-structured interviews, we explored four questions covering the scope and use of information, the influence of governance, data ownership and confidentiality and the influence of financial incentives and quality improvement on information continuity and coordination. Data were thematically analyzed using NVivo 8.
The overall picture that emerged across all four cases was that whilst accessibility and continuity of information underpin effective care, they are not sufficient for coordination of care for complex conditions. Shared information reduced unnecessary repetition and provided health professionals with the opportunity to access records of care from other providers, but participants described their role in coordination in terms of the active involvement of a person in care rather than the passive availability of information. Complex issues regarding data ownership and confidentiality often hampered information sharing. Successful coordination in each case was associated with responsiveness to local rather than system level factors.
The availability of information is not sufficient to ensure continuity for the patient or coordination from the systems perspective. Policy directed at information continuity must give consideration to the broader ‘fit’ with management and relational continuity and provide a broad base that allows for local responsiveness in order for coordination of care to be achieved.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · BMC Family Practice
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The terms coordination and integration refer to a wide range of interventions, from strategies aimed at coordinating clinical care for individuals to organizational and system interventions such as managed care, which contract medical and support services. Ongoing debate about whether financial and organizational integration are needed to achieve clinical integration is evident in policy debates over several decades, from a focus through the 1990s on improving coordination through structural reform and the use of market mechanisms to achieve allocative efficiencies (better overall service mix) to more recent attention on system performance to improve coordination and quality. We examine this shift in Australia and ask how has changing the policy driver affected efforts to achieve coordination?Care planning, fund pooling and purchasing are still important planks in coordination. Evidence suggests that financial strategies can be used to drive improvements for particular patient groups, but these are unlikely to improve outcomes without being linked to clinical strategies that support coordination through multidisciplinary teamwork, IT, disease management guidelines and audit and feedback. Meso level organizational strategies might align the various elements to improve coordination.Changing the policy driver has refocused research and policy over the last two decades from a focus on achieving allocative efficiencies to achieving quality and value for money. Research is yet to develop theoretical approaches that can deal with the implications for assessing effectiveness. Efforts need to identify intervention mechanisms, plausible relationships between these and their measurable outcomes and the components of contexts that support the emergence of intervention attributes.
No preview · Article · Nov 2012 · International Journal for Quality in Health Care
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To review Australian mental health initiatives involving coordination of care.
Commonwealth government websites were systematically searched for mental health policy documents. Database searches were also conducted using the terms 'coordination' or 'integration' and 'mental health' or 'mental illness' and 'Australia'. We assessed the extent to which informational, relational and management continuity have been addressed in three example programs.
The lack of definition of coordination at the policy level reduces opportunities for developing actionable and measurable programs. Of the 51 mental health initiatives identified, the three examples studied all demonstrated some use of the dimensions of continuity to facilitate coordination. However, problems with funding, implementation, evaluation and competing agendas between key stakeholders were barriers to improving coordination.
Coordination is possible and can improve both relationships between providers and care provided. However, clear leadership, governance and funding structures are needed to manage the challenges encountered, and evaluation using appropriate outcome measures, structured to assess the elements of continuity, is necessary to detect improvements in coordination.
No preview · Article · May 2012 · Australian health review: a publication of the Australian Hospital Association
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The social mission, or accepted social responsibility of Australian medical schools, was assessed at a time of rapid expansion and resulting pressure on staff and facilities. Nine new schools have been established in 2005-10 and there has been particular concern about adequacy of clinical training places. Discussions with most of the deans revealed their strong social commitments. We consider two of these in depth - raising the status and thus the involvement of students in general and especially rural practice; and increasing the numbers of Indigenous students and the knowledge of Indigenous health and culture among all students. We examine a system by which medical schools in the USA have been ranked for social mission achievements and suggest this approach might be used in Australia to measure the response of medical schools to Government initiatives and policies.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2011 · Australian health review: a publication of the Australian Hospital Association
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Multidisciplinary approaches to primary health care improve outcomes for individuals living with chronic conditions. However, emerging evidence suggests access to allied health professionals in Australia is problematic. This paper reports findings of a telephone survey of allied health professionals' billing practices in one urban area. The survey was undertaken as a quality improvement project in response to the affordability queries raised by patients and carers in the clinical setting. The aim was to determine financial cost of access to allied health professionals in one urban primary health care setting. Participant practices included: physiotherapy (n=21), podiatry (n=8) and dietitians (n=3). Fees were variable, with cost of the initial (assessment) appointment higher than subsequent (follow-up) appointments in 92% of practices. The average out of pocket expenses for assessment and three follow-up appointments ranged from $258 to $302. When available, the Medicare rebate reduced this to $58-106. Bulk billing was not offered. Variable costs, minimal concessions and absence of bulk billing in this confined geographical area creates a cost barrier to access for patients from lower socioeconomic groups and has implications for access to multidisciplinary care in Australian primary health care.
No preview · Article · Jan 2011 · Australian Journal of Primary Health
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The final report of the National Health and Hospital Reform Commission (NHHRC) called for a strengthened consumer voice and empowerment. This has salience for the development of health policy concerning chronic illnesses. This paper compares the recommendations for chronic illness care made in the NHHRC final report with suggestions made by people with chronic illness and family carers of people with chronic illness in a recent Australian study. Sixty-six participants were interviewed in a qualitative research project of the Serious and Continuing Illness Policy and Practice Study (SCIPPS). Participants were people with type II diabetes mellitus, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or chronic heart failure. Family carers were also interviewed. Content analysis was undertaken and participants' recommendations for improving care were compared with those proposed in the NHHRC final report. Many suggestions from the participants of the SCIPPS qualitative research project appeared in the NHHRC final report, including the need to improve care coordination, health literacy and the experience of Indigenous Australians. The research project also identified important issues of family carers, immigrants and people with multiple illnesses, which were not addressed in the NHHRC final report. More specific attention is needed in health reform to improve the experience of family carers, Indigenous peoples, immigrants to Australia and people with multiple illnesses. To align more closely with their needs, health reform must be explicitly informed by the voices of people with chronic illness and their family carers. The NHHRC recommendations must be supplemented with proposals that address the needs of these people for support and the problems associated with poor care coordination.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2011 · Australian Journal of Primary Health
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In 2008, the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute (APHCRI) held a Primary Health Care Workforce Roundtable with practising clinicians, policymakers and researchers, which drew on Australian evidence in health care policy, systematic reviews, and expertise and experience of participants. Key recommendations for an adequate, sustainable and effective primary health care workforce that arose from the meeting included: simplifying the Medicare Benefits Schedule, which is unnecessarily complex and inflexible; effectively funding undergraduate and prevocational medical and nursing education and training in primary health care; developing career structure and training pathways for general practitioners and primary health care nurses; developing of functional primary health care teams; and using a blended funding model, comprising fee-for-service as well as capitation for patients with chronic or complex needs. A report from the meeting, detailing these policy options, was submitted to the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission for inclusion in their deliberations.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2009 · The Medical journal of Australia
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To review the literature on the effectiveness of competency-based education (CBE) as a means of equipping the Australian general practice workforce to deliver optimal chronic disease outcomes to articulate policy options for the Australian context.
Systematic review of the literature (1991-2005) using a narrative approach followed by analysis of the findings using the actors/context/ processes/content framework of Buse et al.
Few high-quality studies were identified. National policy options include incorporating clear statements about education and training, research and evaluation in any policy document targeting chronic disease; and provision of funding to enhance general practice teaching facilities and/or facilitate the development of supportive coordinating and administrative structures for training practices. Designers of CBE should consider five key questions: Are the educational objectives of the CBE clearly aligned with the chronic disease or workforce-related outcomes of interest? Is the design of the CBE sound? Have similar educational programs targeting the same outcomes been identified and every attempt made to maximise synergies between programs? Are the educational designers fully aware of and working within the existing complexity of the training environment? Are all involved in the program actively managing the process of change?
Policy options range from those relatively simple and achievable to more complex and difficult. The full report is available at http://www.anu.edu.au/aphcri/Domain/Workforce/final_25_glasgow.pdf.
Full-text · Article · May 2008 · The Medical journal of Australia
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A synthesis of the findings of the five studies of sustainability of primary health care innovation across six domains (political, institutional, financial, economic, client and workforce) yielded three main themes. These were: the importance of social relationships, networks and champions; the effect of political, financial and societal forces; and the motivation and capacity of agents within the system. The need for routine assessment of the sustainability of primary health care innovations is discussed. Given the dearth of literature on the sustainability of primary health care innovation, there is potential to develop a program of research directed towards a future synthesis of evidence.
Preview · Article · Dec 2005 · The Medical journal of Australia