Government aged care reform: providers must adapt, be flexible & innovate to remain relevant

Yesterday the Hon. Sussan Ley MP, Federal Minister for Health, Minister for Aged Care and Minister for Sport reaffirmed the path of health and aged care reforms with the announcement of the Healthier Medicare package – one of the biggest health system reforms since the introduction of Medicare 30 years ago. The Minister says this will revolutionise care for Australians with chronic diseases and complex conditions – aiming to keep them out-of-hospital and living happier and healthier lives at home.

This new announcement is the latest in a long string of reforms and advancements with common underlying principles of deregulation, consumer choice and direction, and embracing technological innovation. The Minister also confirmed during the announcement at the Brisbane CEDA event, moderated by KPMG yesterday, that work is underway to move residential aged care towards a deregulated and consumer directed model. How we get there is still being explored to ensure fair outcomes for invested providers, and protection of service availability and affordability for those in rural and regional areas and those with special needs.

The key message that Minister Ley had for aged care providers is this: adapt, be flexible and embrace innovation.

Liz Forsyth and Sussan Ley MP at the Brisbane CEDA event
Liz Forsyth and Sussan Ley MP at the Brisbane CEDA event

Change brings opportunity, and it is vital that providers embrace this. Whilst many have embarked on transformational programs, truly shifting to a service delivery model that is centred on consumer choice and direction requires fundamental changes in thinking and approach.

Quality is no longer about giving consumers what you think they need, but to focus on being flexible to giving them what they want, how they want it, and above all, empowering them to achieve goals related to their wellbeing.

The new Healthier Medicare package reforms echo this with similar features to the Home Care CDC reforms, to ‘wrap’ services around the consumer through a central coordination point (the GP) with the objective of directing funding towards holistic consumer needs within a home setting. Funding reform will also include payments to allow more integrated care for the sickest patients.

This new direction in delivery of chronic disease prevention and management opens up opportunities for aged care providers to participate in the delivery of these holistic solutions to new consumer groups. Many aged care providers have established capabilities in delivery of multidisciplinary and complex services in the home, and are well-placed to build partnerships with Primary Health Networks, allied health professionals and other key stakeholders to capitalise on these opportunities.

Recognition of the integration between health and aged care spectrums is needed to enable delivery of end-to-end solutions to the consumer. The Digital Health Strategy will implement an open source electronic health record system designed to involve consumers in their health care and management.

Quality of care is in the spotlight particularly as it relates to end-of-life, complex care and special needs groups. Emphasis is placed on technology to enable new models of care and new ways of working. To continue to remain relevant, deliver value and improved outcomes, aged care providers will have to adapt, be flexible and embrace innovation.

Liz Forsyth


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