Fixing Australia's disconnected care systems

Diabetes Australia CEO, Professor Greg Johnson yesterday attended a Roundtable meeting with the Minister for Heath, Hon Greg Hunt, in Melbourne coordinated by the Consumers Health Forum to press for greater Government focus on the value of consumer-centred primary care, prevention and research.

Professor Johnson spoke about prevention at the Roundtable stressing the need for stronger leadership and action from many sectors to prevent the development of chronic conditions including type 2 diabetes, many cancers, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, dementia and mental health issues.

“Minister Hunt was generous with his time and was very positive about a range of suggestions and proposals about how we can make Australia's health system even better, with more active partnerships with consumers in planning and implementing change, and improving outcomes for consumers," Professor Johnson said.

“People with chronic conditions like diabetes are often very confused by our fragmented health system,” he said. “We have world class primary care health professionals, specialists and hospitals, but they are too often disconnected and consumers feel the health system lacks coordination, communication and integration.

“This leads to frustration for families and carers, poor consumer experience and outcomes, and often a waste of time and resources for consumers and the health system.

“The solution is to be better linked up and for consumers to be the focus of how health services are planned, organised and delivered.”

Diabetes Australia is a member of the Consumers Health Forum which provided the Minister with an issues paper setting out consumer priorities for a National Health Plan featuring two essential starting points:

  • Reforms to strengthen Australia’s primary health care system to make it more consumer-centred, prevention-oriented, better integrated with hospital and social care and added capacity to support transitions of care; and
  • Boosts to investment in health systems research, shaped by consumer and community priorities, to stimulate services that reflect advances in health sciences and knowledge.

“If we want better health outcomes and we want to prevent illness – we need much better Commonwealth, state and territory collaboration,” he said. “We have a myriad of disconnected health programs administered by different levels of government costing billions – but not integrated or coordinated to work for people and communities.”