Blueprint maps out how to give Australians a 21st century health system

| February 15, 2018

The recent report released by Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association maps out how to transform our healthcare system into a fit-for-purpose 21st century system. Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive of AHHA, advocates for the immediate roll out the recommendations.


Recently we presented Health Ministers with a blueprint document that AHHA and Australian health leaders had been working on for 9 months.

Healthy people, healthy systems maps out how to transform our healthcare system into a fit-for-purpose 21st century system that will meet the needs and expectations of Australians. It contains range of short, medium and long term recommendations for reorientating our healthcare system to focus on patient outcomes and value rather than throughput and vested interests.

This year Health Ministers and First Ministers are negotiating new public hospital funding arrangements to apply beyond 2020. If Ministers are committed to a healthy Australia supported by the best possible healthcare system, they simply need to direct their health departments to begin rolling out the recommendations found in the blueprint.

Health Ministers must be more ambitious than merely agreeing on what public hospital funding arrangements will look like after 2020. The health sector is adamant it’s time we move our system toward value-based care and away from more of the same and tinkering around the edges.

To do this we outline four steps, with recommendations on: governance arrangements; data and reporting that drives intelligent system design; health workforce reform; and sustainable funding that is dependable yet innovative.

We recommend consolidating several existing health authorities into an independent national health authority—distinct from the Commonwealth, state and territory health departments—with funding responsibilities, to support integration of health services at a regional level to achieve outcomes-focused and value-based healthcare. This authority would report directly to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) or the COAG Health Council. This would help take the politics and finger pointing out of health reform and allow for a regionally controlled health system that was also nationally unified.

We recommend requiring all health service providers delivering government funded or reimbursed services to supply data on patient outcomes and other service provision dimensions. This will better inform system performance and help us move towards publicly available outcomes data that will empower patients to make informed choices about treatment options and providers.

A national health workforce reform strategy is required that goes beyond the supply and location of health practitioners and considers roles and responsibilities needed to achieve a health workforce that is flexible, competent, working to the top of their scope of practice, and actively participating in the design and delivery of health services.

Maintaining current Commonwealth funding levels for public hospitals, including the growth formula, will provide sustainable and appropriate support—but we need to be more innovative in our move towards value-based care. A good start would be trialling a mixed funding formula with a 25% component for achieved health outcomes relating to the top 4 chronic diseases.

It’s time to step out of our comfort zones and transform fragmented healthcare in Australia—the blueprint’s recommendations are a good place to start.

The report is available for free download here.

The AHHA will be hosting a roundtable discussion on the Healthy people, healthy systems blueprint in Canberra on 7 March 2018, seeking to produce case studies/exemplars that will support our advocacy for:

  • a nationally unified and regionally controlled health system that puts patients at the centre
  • performance information and reporting that is fit-for-purpose
  • a health workforce that exists to serve and meet population health needs
  • funding that is sustainable and appropriate to support a high quality health system.

More information on the roundtable is available here.

Alison Verhoeven
Alison is Chief Executive of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA), the independent peak membership body and advocate for the Australian healthcare system and a national voice for universally accessible, high quality healthcare in Australia. Its members include public and not-for-profit hospitals, primary health networks, primary and community health services, universities and individual health leaders.

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