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Health Reform is coming. Are you ready?

health reform value-based health care Feb 21, 2023

In Australia, we are about to experience the biggest change to our health care system since the introduction of Medicare in the early 1980s.  

For many of us, we only know the way we operate now so it’s understandable to feel a little nervous and curious. 

What reforms are coming?

Whilst the federal government haven't released any specific roadmap or rollout details as yet, there are some clear signs that major change is in the wind. Here's what we do know so far:

  • In May 2020, the Federal Government and all states and territories committed to national reform by 2025 through the signing of a 2020–25 Addendum to the National Health Reform Agreement. One of the six key reforms outlined in this agreement includes a shift to paying for value and health outcomes as opposed to the current fee-for-service payment system and a commitment to improved health data integration to support better health outcomes. These reforms are two cornerstone characteristics of a value-based care delivery model.
  • In September 2021, the National Health Reform Agreement Long Term Reforms Roadmap was endorsed by all Australian Health Ministers and some of the outputs committed to around the shift to paying for value and health outcomes include developing principles for consistent outcome-focused, value-based health care measures across the health system and improved patient-reported health outcomes and care experiences. This further confirms that value-based care delivery and the measurement of value through the collection of patient reported experience and outcome measures will be key elements of this reform.
  • In October 2021, The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality for Health Care (The Commission) released the National Safety and Quality Primary and Community Healthcare Standards, which for the first time included a standard focussed on Partnering with Patients, which is another key characteristic of Value-based care delivery. Commencing in 2023, there will be assessment and accreditation for allied health practices, general practices and community practices to meet expected standards for safety and quality.

  • The Commission also released the Australian Charter of Healthcare Rights in 2020 which sets expectations for patients about what their health and their right to expect it. Engaging patients in their health is an important component of an outcomes-based health delivery model, encouraging them to ask questions and shared their lived experience to as a valued member of the care team.

  •  In March 2022, The Australian Government Department of Health released its 10 year plan for Australia’s Primary Health Care. This again indicated a shift towards a collaborative value-based system which is person-centred and focusses on what matters to patients.
  • In February 2023 the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce released its recommendations to address the most pressing investments needed in primary care. It very clearly indicated that to implement the recommendations requires the adoption of a value-based, multidisciplinary team approach across all areas of the heath care sector.


What is driving this reform?

Over the years, there have been calls for health reform in Australia to address issues such as rising healthcare costs, workforce shortages, an ageing population, spiralling rates of chronic disease and the need to improve health outcomes for disadvantaged populations. The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly also challenged our current system and its workforce and amplified the need for wholesale change.

In truth, a healthcare storm has been brewing over the past decade, driven by technological advances and patient expectations set outside the industry, which is empowering patients to take control of their own healthcare. The internet era is rapidly transforming expectations of service delivery for the patient, their extended family and social networks. 

Developments in artificial intelligence, robotics, precision medicine, wearables and virtual care delivery are reshaping the doctor-patient relationship. 

This new way forward is no longer just about making incremental changes to the current processes. Instead, stakeholders must completely reimagine how care is provided within the healthcare system and reorientate the focus to the patient and the outcomes that matter most to them. 


What do you need to do to get your practice reform ready?

Implementing effective change takes time and planning. That is why it is important to start educating yourself now on what these reform changes will mean to you, your practice and your patients.

To be reform ready, we've simplified what's required into three key areas of your practice:

1.Adopting a value-based health care delivery model as your future model of care

2.Moving beyond a patient-centred approach to partnering with your patients and

3.Measuring patient experience and outcomes that matter.

Further Learning:

To learn more about these reforms and what your practice needs to do to be ready for change, watch our free Kickstarter webinar - Australian Health Reform: What it means for you and your practice here. 

Ready to learn more about partnering with your patients and discover how your practice can evolve to be more patient-driven? Take our introductory Fundamentals of PX course online now. 


Further Reading: 

Blog: The 2023-24 Federal Budget: A Patient Advocate's Perspective on Health Reform.

Blog: The Fundamentals of Patient-Reported Measures.

  Blog: The five reasons why you need to move beyond being patient-centred.

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