Primary health care serves as the immediate access of the community to the general health care system. Its composition is primarily made of various services grounded upon a multidisciplinary approach and scientific basis. The way it provides services to the people is supplemented by means driven by community development, illness prevention, patient advocacy, promotion of healthcare, and establishing a network of care for the patients.
General practitioners through settings such as community health centers, allied health services, and aboriginal health centers, provide services from primary health care. Furthermore, primary health care plays a role in educating the community on how to manage further their health conditions and improving their quality of life quality.
With this, general practice as a whole is considered as the cornerstone of primary health care. General practitioners or GPs are duly registered under the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. On the other hand, practices that are given in a lesser amount are considered by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners as special interests instead of general practices.
Here are the four main purposes of the primary health care system:
- Provision of the right care at the right moment to the population
- Provision of cost-effective hospital-based care
- Act as enabler and gateway for health care services
- Coordinate with health providers within the general picture of the healthcare system
Meanwhile, the general practice provides direct and continuous comprehensive health care services to the population. It is grounded upon a careful medical training with up to date scientific updates. These elements are encircling the efficient primary health care system.
This is the Quadruple Aim framework followed by general practice to maximise health system performance:
· Pursue improvements in the health of the population
· Enhance patient experience
· Cost reduction of health care services
· Improve the lives of health care providers
Value of General Practice
The success of primary health care in Australia is backed up by general practice. The World Organisation of Family Doctors supports such an assertion. In 1991, a statement entitled The Role of the GP/Family Physician in Health Care Systems was released. It described the general practice as a central discipline in medicine wherein the cooperative team between allied and medical health disciplines is forged.
World Health Organisation identified that countries with a sound general practice have:
· Lower morbidity and mortality cases
· Improved access to health care
· Lower hospitalisation rates
· Less consultation
· Better emergency services
· Efficient illness detection
It is provided in these factors that GPs influence greatly the health care system in various aspects. One of which would be on how expenditures in health are exhausted and what could be the outcome after all. Moreover, the role of GP is important to an aging population wherein the cases of chronic diseases increase. And this translates to the primary health care systems.
Key Elements of good quality general practice
Access for Patients
Health care providers must ensure access to the primary health care system. This could be driven partly by a highly trained GP workforce. Equity must be secured at all costs regardless of the socioeconomic background of the patient.
· Adequate Funding
Currently, the Commonwealth Government allows 8% of the total government budget for health care. This provides health care systems with adequate support in order to optimise their respective services. Yet, the government is still attempting to increase the funding to 10% to re-orient the health system to better health care provision.
· Regular GP and Medical Home
This reduces the fragmentation and bureaucracy within the practice. GPs are regulated in a medical home wherein the primary care is supported in giving services outside patient consultation. It is known that fragmentation increases the cost of overall health care service and through this support system, primary health care is alleviated from such tendency.
· Appropriate distribution of workforce
The existence of equitable workforce distribution across the country is another indicator. As long as the health sector properly manages the demands of the workforce and their distribution while at the same time, securing a professional and established training background for the GPs, general practice is indeed commendable.
· Team-based care
Team-based care is preferable as it gives a cost-effective yet efficient service. The demonstration of GPs of their capacity to maintain good outcomes and results of patient care lays the foundation on how they can easily respond to the changing demands of the population. It is also here where a multidisciplinary approach is given to the general public.
· Sound coordination
The structure of primary health care organisations oversees how general practice maintains that sense of communication and coordination between experienced experts. It is here where they can access the support system from other GPs working on a different discipline. Having this factor entails that the GP sector is of good quality.
· High commitment to quality and safety
Accreditation and recognition are the two main elements of this aspect. GPs follow a certain set of standards by which they apply and provide their services. Also, continuing professional development (CPD) programs further improve and maintain their experience with the field at the most current trends in medical practice. Applying these updates also follows established rules and a set of standards.
Research is a key element of sound general practice. This supplements the existing knowledge in medical practice. Acquiring good practice research opens up innovation and findings in the services, leading to an improved model or approach to health care.