December 2011


Australia’s systems of primary healthcare

The need for improved coordination and implications for Medicare Locals

Volume 40, No.12, December 2011 Pages 995-999

Marlene Wiese

Gwyneth Jolley

Fran Baum

Toby Freeman

Michael R Kidd


In Australia, primary healthcare is largely delivered through two parallel systems: Medicare supported primary care delivered by fee-for-service general practitioners, and state funded and managed community health services.


Semistructured interviews with 18 GPs to investigate the current links between GPs and local primary healthcare providers.


Barriers to links include: communication and information, access and availability of services, GP lack of awareness and understanding of services provided in the state funded sector, and lack of time to gain information.


General practitioners reported dealing with more complex and challenging patients. However, this did not appear to increase their likelihood of engaging with state funded primary healthcare services in case management. Medicare Locals are a once-in-a-generation chance to establish a genuinely coordinated and multidisciplinary primary healthcare sector. To be successful, Medicare Locals will need to bring together two parallel systems of care and improve integration and coordination.

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