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Health Care Homes program

4-minute read

The Health Care Homes program is a new way of coordinating the health care of people with long-term, complex health conditions. The program is being rolled out from late 2017.

What is the Health Care Homes program?

One in 4 Australians has more than one long-term health condition such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, a mental health issue, eye disease, respiratory problems or arthritis.

Having these chronic health problems means you need a lot of support to look after your health. But it can be quite difficult to manage everything, including monitoring your symptoms, medications, appointments and advice from different health professionals.

Often, you will need to see different doctors, your care may not be coordinated, and it can be difficult to get to all the appointments.

The Health Care Homes program is designed to provide one team to coordinate the care of people with chronic and complex conditions who are assessed as eligible and likely to benefit.

A Health Care Home is a general practice or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) that coordinates care for patients with chronic and complex conditions. It does not mean you receive in-home care.

The team will work with you to develop a shared care plan to:

  • set health goals
  • help you manage your conditions and improve your quality of life
  • identify the best local providers to meet your needs.

How does the program work?

If the general practice or ACCHS you go to has enrolled in the program and you have one or more chronic conditions, you may be eligible to enrol as a Health Care Home patient. When you enrol, a GP of your choice leads a care team to care for your chronic and complex conditions. This team will coordinate your care, including visits to the GP, specialist visits, scripts, blood pressure checks and other services.

Rather than paying a Medicare benefit for each visit to a doctor, the government makes a monthly payment to the Health Care Home to look after you. Health Care Homes are encouraged to bulk bill patients. However, it will be up to each Health Care Home to tell patients if they need to pay a gap fee.

The team can use the money in the way that suits your needs best, meaning they can be flexible and innovative in how they help you.  

They will help you follow your shared care plan. For example, they may call you regularly to check on your symptoms, talk to the local pharmacy about your medicines, or follow up a hospital visit.

The team also works closely with allied health providers such as podiatrists. Medicare payments for these services will not change.

What are the benefits of a Health Care Home?

  • All your care will be coordinated, including GP visits, specialist visits and hospital stays. There will be better communication between all the health care providers who are looking after you.
  • Rather than going to the doctor when you have a problem or when there is an appointment available, your care is determined by a proactive plan to meet your health needs.
  • The team tracks tests and consultations and follows up after emergency department visits and hospitalisation
  • The team can be flexible in the way they look after you.
  • The team is led by your GP, who knows you and your history well.
  • The team will help you be active in managing your own health.
  • You will get the knowledge, skills and support you need to make decisions about your health and to keep healthy
  • You may be able to access care in different ways, such as by telephone, email or videoconferencing.

Arrangements for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients

If your local ACCHS, or the practice you usually visit, becomes a Health Care Home, you can ask your doctor or practice receptionist whether enrolling would be suitable for you.

If you enrol as a Health Care Home patient, the team will coordinate your care, including visits to the GP, specialist visits, scripts, blood pressure checks, physiotherapy, podiatry and other health services. Each Health Care Home will also work with the integrated team care (ITC) program arrangements for chronic care.

Where is the program available?

Twenty practices and ACCHS will begin Health Care Home services on 1 October 2017. A further 180 will begin on 1 December 2017. You can find the list of all 200 Health Care Homes on the Department of Health website.

Can I join the Health Care Homes program?

If you are interested in enrolling for a Health Care Home, talk to your GP. To be eligible to enrol, you must:

  • have a Medicare card
  • have a My Health Record or be willing to get one
  • be able to benefit from the Health Care Home model of care
  • be assessed as eligible by a participating Health Care Home.

For more information, visit the Department of Health website.

Last reviewed: September 2017

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