More bang for the buck by investing in population health

More bang for the buck by investing in population health

21 February 2013

Streamlining and efficiencies underpin the AML Alliances Federal Budget 2013-2014 Submission which is seeking an investment of $612 million over three to four years for three key measures:
  • to streamline a comprehensive approach to detecting a patient's risk of chronic disease by implementing a prevention, early detection and intervention approach to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and kidney disease by applying Absolute Risk guidelines and assessment tools in one single assessment;
  • to implement a national network of chronic disease care coordinators to improve peoples access to prevention programs or multidisciplinary care [$130 million per annum over four years]; and
  • to develop an early childhood masterplan and enhanced service delivery capacity for each Medicare Local community [$92 million over three years].

AML Alliance Chair, Dr Arn Sprogis, said the advantages of the Medicare Local system for primary health care is in their population health approach which offers a far more efficient and effective way to achieve better health outcomes for communities.

This Budget Submission also reflects investments in primary health care that are about keeping people well and out of hospital, Dr Sprogis said.

Despite having one of the worlds highest life expectancies, the burden of disease associated with chronic disease will inevitably place an unsustainable strain on Australias health system. Population health strategies and programs, delivered through Medicare Locals, which tackle these conditions are the way to go, Dr Sprogis said.

For example: chronic kidney disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease combined, account for approximately one quarter of the disease burden in Australia, he said.

Cardiovascular disease alone accounted for 11 percent ($5.9 billion) of the total Australian health expenditure in 2007-2008.

By delivering a comprehensive approach to chronic disease risk, based on the Absolute Risk guidelines, the benefits will include:

  • Evidence-based health assessments that cover a range of conditions, which is more convenient for patients;
  • A simpler process for practices and reduced red tape;
  • An easier referral process for patients to gain access to appropriate health prevention programs.

To complement this risk assessment process and to ensure there is follow through for patients, embedding chronic disease care coordinators in Medicare Locals will significantly improve patients access to the right services and to help patients to self-manage their chronic disease, Dr Sprogis said.

Self-management should not be underestimated in terms of its impact on the health system because it enables people to stay out of hospital longer and manage their care closer to home.

The AML Alliances Federal Budget Submission has also identified the importance of childhood development and getting the nations new generations off to a healthy start.

The childhood masterplans measure, is about building up capacity across multiple services and agencies to help them provide systematic care for children in the early developmental years.

These plans will cover parenting programs, health checks and school-based programs.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfares A picture of Australias health, investment in prevention and early intervention programs in early childhood leads to substantial financial savings, Dr Sprogis said.

The Australian Governments restructuring of the primary health care system through Medicare Locals, uniquely positions these primary health care organisations to take a systematic approach to population health, Dr Sprogis said.