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Doctors clinics are about to become ``healthcare homes'' as the new primary health care plan for the South is implemented.
Expressions of interest opened this week for practices wishing to become HCH's - a hub which co-ordinates services, appointments and patient information between clinicians.
All practices in the region received the expressions of interest documents, and have until May 18 to respond.
``The model addresses four core domains,'' WellSouth acting chief executive Wendy Findlay said.
They are. -
• Ready access to urgent and unplanned care.
• Proactive care for those with more complex needs.
• Better routine and preventive care.
• Improved business efficiency and sustainability.
A steering committee will assess applications and a final announcement will be made on July 2.
The HCH model envisages patients having easier access to health records through a secure portal, and greater use of technology for consultations and diagnosis.
It is potentially of great use in the geographically widespread Southern District Health Board area.
Ms Findlay expected all parts of the Southern DHB region would have an HCH.
``We have made a significant effort to meet with as many practices who show an interest and give them as much information as they need to make a decision about applying to be a HCH,'' she said.
``The interest has been overwhelmingly positive, so we are confident this will be the case.''
The primary and community healthcare strategy was debated at public meetings earlier this year, and feedback had largely supported the draft plan's vision, SDHB strategy, primary and community executive director Lisa Gestro said.
``We always said the refining and the implementation of the strategy would happen simultaneously, and having heard sufficient support for the concept gave us comfort we were heading in the right direction,'' Mrs Gestro said.
``There were some great ideas in the submissions and some of it will feed through to the final refined strategy, but a lot of it was just generally supportive.''
The main change from the draft was where boundaries for different HCH localities would be drawn, she said.
``We thought, looking at it from an aerial view, that it would be quite simple, but when you get out there talking to people actually living in those communities and working at the coal face, there were some idiosyncracies we were unaware of, in terms of things like patient flow and logical association to an area.''
Planners also addressed issues regarding continuity of care and patients maintaining their relationship with their GPs.
``Inherent in the idea of healthcare homes is for general practice to spend more time with patients who need that,'' Mrs Gestro said.
``Also, people wanted recognition that not every community is the same, so it won't be a broad-brush approach.''
Mrs Gestro is finalising targets the SDHB and WellSouth wanted to achieve.
Better patient experience, improved delivery of services and reduced admissions to hospital for avoidable complaints were among the targets being considered, she said.