Partnership approaches across all health settings have been growing in most developed nations, based on the assumption that integration improves outcomes of care.72 Primary care is the most common provider of health services in Australia but is one part of a complex array of services which meet the population needs.9,16 In Canada it has been demonstrated that increased access to primary care alone does not result in better performance.6 Rather, the organisational model of primary care and its integration into the broader health system are key factors in improved performance.6
There are significant challenges in developing partnerships between primary care and other health settings such as aged care facilities and acute hospitals.72,73 Given the complexity of patients’ needs in aged care, partnerships with multi-disciplinary teams such as those provided by GP Super Clinics have the potential, strategically and operationally, to meet the needs of older people. Similarly, there would be advantages for partnerships with acute hospitals and community health centres.
Evidence for the development of partnerships with other health services was limited. Where they had been established they related mainly to specific clinical services such as providing medical care in aged facilities. The expectations of the GP Super Clinics Program far exceed this, with potential for partnerships in planning and delivery of health services. With maturation, it would be expected a more strategic approach to the provision of integrated health care to meet local health needs could be developed. Under concurrently occurring national reforms, new structures such as Medicare Locals (independent primary health care organisations) and local state health services, have joint responsibilities in the partnership with GP Super Clinics.
6Hutchison B, Levesque J-F, Strumpf E, Coyle N. Primary Health Care in Canada: Systems in Motion. Milbank Quarterly.89(2):256-288.
9Primary Health Care Reform in Australia: Report to Support Australia's First National Primary Health Care Strategy. Canberra: Australian Government; Department of Health and Ageing;2009.
16McDonald J, Cumming J, Harris M, Powell Davies G, Burns P. Systematic Review of Comprehensive Primary Care Models. Sydney: Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute;2006.
72Kendall E, Ehrlich C, Young M, Muenchberger H, Wilkie K, Rushton C. Health partnerships: perspectives of medical practitioners in general practice, health systems and hospital settings. Australian Journal of Primary Health. 2009;15(4):319-325.
73Halcomb EJ. Feasibility and sustainability of a model of multidisciplinary case conferencing in residential aged care. Australian Journal of Primary Health. 2009;15(3):238-243.