Primary Health Networks: Why should we care?

Investing in different, not more of the same.

Embracing value-based care: Transition to patient-centred medical homes

There is nothing quite so frustrating as working in silos. Amongst other things, PHNs are a mechanism to reduce fragmentation in health care, and increase collaboration between the primary and tertiary care sectors. But they are often misunderstood.

Should we just invest more in general practice?

To answer this, we need to answer three questions:

  1. Is health care in Australia currently operating in an organised enough manner to drive high quality outcomes regardless of where a patient is in their health care journey?
  2. Are you confident that your loved ones will receive high quality primary health care regardless of which of their local general practices they visit?
  3. If we are not quite there yet, and we believe our system is fragmented and disconnected, how do we ensure that as taxpayers, we do not just pay for more of the same?

Let’s also consider:

  • Are practices set up in a way that they would be able to demonstrate improvements in health outcomes over a period of time?
  • How many practices in Australia routinely collect and scrutinise their data?
  • How many practices have a comprehensive understanding of their patient population?
  • How invested are our professional bodies in considering alternative models of funding to fee for service?
  • In the USA, a certain practice has been able to demonstrate a reduction in the 28 day readmission of their patients due to medication errors from 20% to 2%. How close is our current system from being able to achieve this? Where is the data?

These are all the questions that organised care could answer. PHNs could play a key role in this area, but nationally, they are not perfect.

What are some of the key areas in which PHNs can play a role?

The table below highlights some of the ways in which one PHN, WentWest Western Sydney Primary Health Network provides support to general practices in western Sydney. This is just a brief snapshot from the WentWest brochure, Transforming Primary Care Part II, and you can find out more by visiting the WentWest website.

Dr Charlotte Hespe provides an excellent summary of what primary health networks are, and why they might help us to achieve a better and more connected future.

“[PHNs] are tasked with facilitating and assisting general practice to deliver improved high-quality, patient-centred healthcare and outcomes and can provide assistance by the provision of new services to bridge the current gaps in care that are vitally needed and should be supported to do so.”

Read more of what Dr Hespe has to say here.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.