AML Alliance welcomes endorsement for Local Hospital Network and Medicare Local links

AML Alliance welcomes endorsement for Local Hospital Network and Medicare Local links

02 December 2013

The value of Medicare Locals has been recognised by the AMA in its recently released position statement on General practice/hospitals transfer of care arrangements 2013.

AML Alliance Chair, Dr Arn Sprogis said we agree with the AMAs statement that the establishment of Local Hospital Networks (LHNs) and Primary Health Care Organisations known as Medicare Locals (MLs) provides an environment to support good transfer of care arrangements in the health system.

This is coordination at its best from a quality of care, efficiency and productivity point of view and increasingly as the relationships and partnerships between LHNs and MLs develop, communities will receive real health benefits from improvements in the patient journey, Dr Sprogis said.

We also agree that there is an urgent need to explore a nationally consistent approach to care pathways between LHNs and MLs, and that there is enough flexibility to ensure care pathways are suitable for local circumstances, he said.

The whole point of having LHNs and MLs working together is to:

  • improve quality of care patients seeing the right person, at the right time, at the right place
  • reduce duplication and unnecessary re-admissions
  • ensure patients do not fall through the gaps between the primary and acute health sectors
  • reduce costs and bureaucratic waste
  • relieve the pressure already placed on emergency departments.
Good continuity of care particularly for those with chronic and complex conditions who must access multiple levels of the system is essential to delivering safe, efficient and quality care.

The increase in prevention and self-management associated with good continuity of care helps keep people well and in their homes, allowing them to make a greater contribution to the economy through active workforce participation, Dr Sprogis said.

A sample of what Medicare Locals are doing in partnership with LHNs:

Eastern Sydney ML has established a Care Navigation Project with St Vincent's Health Network that supports patients with chronic conditions to be better supported in the primary care setting and is working with the Sydney Children's Hospitals Network to develop better protocols for health screening of children from CALD communities.

Greater Metro South Brisbane ML has established a post natal program in partnership with Metro South Health (MSH) to deliver a visiting service to all mums and newborns in the health service catchment, a key element will be timely reporting back to GPs; engaged GPs and the Logan hospital to address referral quality from local GPs; worked with the Princess Alexandra hospital to improve the endoscopy referral process and reduce endoscopy waiting lists and worked with GPs and Redland Hospital doctors to develop and implement a standardised discharge summary template.

South Eastern Melbourne ML is employing a Refugee Liaison Nurse at Dandenong Hospital Emergency Department to provide After Hours coordination and liaison for refugees and asylum seekers and to improve pathways to and from acute and primary care services.

Through a joint funding partnership with Darling Downs Hospital and Health Service and the Darling Downs South West QLD ML a General Practice Liaison Officer is connecting Toowoombas GPs with local hospital and health services to get the communication channels working effectively to reduce duplication and the chances of patients falling through the gaps in the system

Tasmania ML is helping local clinicians develop whole-of-system care pathways which will break down the silos between hospital and community-based care and lead to a smoother patient journey

Sunshine Coast ML has introduced a pilot program aimed at reducing hospital readmissions in older patients

Inner North West Melbourne ML is working in partnership with St Vincents and Royal Melbourne Hospital to support the primary care of people with chronic hepatitis B.

Central Adelaide and Hills ML is supporting patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) by building the capacity of general practice and the primary health care sector to better manage COPD within community settings. This will assist avoidable and unnecessary hospitalisations and provide patients with the skills to self-manage their condition.

Northern Melbourne ML is investigating 80,000 hospital visits, as part of ground-breaking research into who uses emergency departments and why

Gold Coast ML in partnership with its LHN has: done a health needs assessment and developed its Gold Coast Health and Wellbeing Plan. In addition, GCML has developed electronic referral templates for GP to Specialist Outpatient referrals; implemented an electronic discharge summary system, monitoring compliance and feedback mechanisms; and undertaken a Winter Wellness program targeting COPD clients with two or more admissions in the previous 12 months which has resulted in a 25% reduction in admissions for this group of patients. GCML employs two general practice liaison officers to work between general practice and the hospital sector and has also developed a primary care based persistent Pain service to reduce hospital waiting lists and improve patient care.