The Department of Health and Ageing was tasked with the implementation of the GP Super Clinics policy which occurred through the establishment of the GP Super Clinics Branch within the Division of Primary and Ambulatory Care. There is evidence that compliance with the processes for Australian Government policy implementation and regulatory requirements was high. Indeed, many of the learnings about program implementation developed through this aspect of the GP Super Clinics Program are applicable to other grants programs.
The GP Super Clinics National Program Guide 2008 was developed as an overview of the program following consultation with a range of relevant stakeholders. This Guide set out the Invitation to Apply and associated consultation processes in each of the identified GP Super Clinic localities. The Program Objectives are deliberately broad to enable the model for each GP Super Clinic to be flexibly tailored to local needs; a factor which proved critical in ensuring applicants could propose models for local health needs and workforce contexts.
The GP Super Clinics Program has been essentially a grants program for construction costs and its management required a diverse set of skills, many of which were not initially available within the Branch. Critically, the skills gaps were recognised early and were either developed, recruited or contracted as the program evolved. The assessment processes for the responses to the Invitation to Apply were robust and involved contributions from experts with the required skills for the tasks.
Managing a long term programIn line with the GP Super Clinics Program objectives the GP Super Clinics are expected to provide a range of services and undertake a number of activities over a period of twenty years from the commencement of operations. This will require on-going monitoring and management of the GP Super Clinics Program for twenty years from the date the last GP Super Clinic commences its operations.
The initial focus on performance management has related to the milestones associated with the construction phases. As the program matured, these milestones evolved to more closely align to those commonly used in construction projects. In addition, the current funding agreement details funds recovery or step-in rights of the Commonwealth of Australia where services are not being provided as intended under the agreed operational plan.
Once operational, GP Super Clinics are required to report two or four monthly using templates developed by the GP Super Clinics Branch. This reporting, which addresses activity within the clinics and progress towards achieving the GP Super Clinics Program objectives, is monitored and used to inform the ongoing management activities undertaken by GP Super Clinics Branch. This monitoring activity will gain greater scale and complexity as more GP Super Clinics become operational. This will necessitate the introduction of more efficient reporting mechanisms for the GP Super Clinics Branch and for the GP Super Clinics.
Key Performance indicators have been developed and are currently under consideration for the GP Super Clinics Program. There is potential for linkage of data outputs from the GP Super Clinics electronic health records with the reporting requirements of the GP Super Clinics Branch. If taken up, it would enable greater understanding and comparison of the outcomes and effectiveness of the models of care for the GP Super Clinics Program.