The Albanese Government is strengthening Medicare with a new $50 million research initiative to drive innovation in primary care.
Primary care is the first place a patient turns when they have a health concern, whether that be their local general practice, a nurse practitioner or allied health professional.
The $50 million research initiative will supercharge innovation that will benefit all Australians but will be particularly directed to groups who have poorer access to healthcare.
Priority groups include older Australians, lower income households and families, people with complex chronic disease, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, LGBTIQA+ Australians, First Nations people, as well as people in regional, rural and remote areas.
The research will work alongside the $2.2 billion worth of investment to strengthen Medicare that were announced in the Budget last week, as well as the single largest investment in bulk billing in the 40-year history of Medicare.
Funding will be targeted to research in three areas:
- identifying and evaluating models of primary care in which patients receive care from GPs and other health professionals, including voluntary patient registration at a practice, innovative models for rural and remote communities, and team-based care
- application of research findings in primary care settings, and spreading knowledge to improve person-centred care
- better use of data and digital technology such as electronic medical records to evaluate models of primary care and support health system planning.
An Expert Advisory Panel will be appointed to fast-track development of the new Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Primary Health Research Plan, which is expected to be released in the latter half of 2023 and will fund research projects from July 2024.
The research funds will be drawn from two MRFF Initiatives—up to $30 million over 4 years from 2024-25 from the Emerging Priorities and Consumer Driven Research Initiative; and up to $20 million over 2 years from 2025-26 from the Primary Health Care Research Initiative.
Quotes attributable to Minister Butler:
“After nine long years of cuts and neglect, the Albanese Government is making Medicare stronger for all Australians.”
“Our historic investments in Medicare deliver the largest investment in bulk billing in the 40-year history of Medicare, alongside $2.2 billion worth of reforms to strengthen Medicare.”
“As we build a stronger Medicare, we need to do more than just invest and hope it works, we need to map and measure innovation to know what works, so we can scale up the successful innovations.”
“The new Primary Health Research Plan will offer $50 million to allow our best and brightest to test new models of care that will strengthen Medicare for all Australians.”