Q'town Medical Centre to become a "healthcare home"

by Eileen Goodwin - Jul 24, 2018

Queenstown Medical Centre stands to gain an extra $16 per patient after being selected for a special programme.

It’s one of four practices selected by the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) as “healthcare homes” – general practices that get a funding top-up to provide a better service.

The rollout is being staged because of the cash-strapped SDHB’s budget pressure.

By the middle of next year it will cover 16 practices serving 120,000 southern patients.

The concept is already used in other parts of New Zealand but it’s new for the SDHB.

The healthcare homes website says 128 New Zealand practices use the care model. Read more here: http://www.healthcarehome.org.nz/

Ian Macara

Ian Macara: "Less travel for some Queenstown patients." Image: NZ Doctor

Ian Macara, chief executive of WellSouth, the region’s primary health organisation, says the practices get an initial annual top-up of $8 per patient, and a further $8 per patient if conditions are met.

Macara says it’ll mean less travel for some Queenstown patients as the funding could facilitate more locally-provided outpatient specialist appointments and telemedicine.

“The beauty for Queenstown is that the Queenstown Medical Centre has been selected to go into tranche one. So we’ll be able to quickly identify the gains there,” Macara says.

The SDHB was overwhelmed with expressions of interest for the programme, receiving 27 applications, three times the number expected. 

Its head of primary care, Lisa Gestro, told last month’s commissioner meeting in Dunedin the board needed to consider its finances when deciding how to roll out the programme.

Dr Richard Macharg, of Queenstown Medical Centre, says he’s “excited and proud” to be among the first selected.

He emailed staff about the good news and provided the email to Crux. He told staff it recognised years of hard work at the practice.

Richard Macharg

Richard Macharg: an opportunity for Queenstown Medical Centre to improve services for locals.

“This programme has been designed and developed in New Zealand to be a gold standard programme for modern general practice focused on improved patient access, comprehensive planned care and a team in which everyone works at the top of their scope.

“This is going to provide a fantastic opportunity for Queenstown Medical Centre to continue to improve our high-quality service even further with a strong focus on our registered population,” the email says.

Crux wanted to know to what extent the initiative could alleviate wider pressure on the district’s health service, which is under the spotlight because of the shortcomings of Lakes District Hospital, but Macharg was reluctant.

“Your questions are pertinent but perhaps rather direct and you may understand my reluctance to offer pithy soundbites if you know the past history of health reporting in and around Queenstown.

Outspoken Queenstown health critic John MacDonald, who’s also a Queenstown Lakes District Councilor, says he doesn’t think the new designation makes a big difference as the practice already offers a lot of healthcare home elements, such as a chemist and x-rays.

John McDonald MR5

John MacDonald: "It’s a good move but it’s not a game changer."

“I think it’s a good move but it’s not a game changer, particularly here where Queenstown Medical Centre is already doing much of what is asked from a healthcare home.”

He’s looking forward to the next stage of the SDHB’s primary strategy, which introduces hubs of co-located services, saying that is the “real opportunity to put things together”.

Wanaka Medical Centre and Aspiring Medical Centre, which is also in Wanaka, are in the second tranche of healthcare homes and get the designation later this year, along with Cromwell’s Junction Health. Alexandra Medical Centre joins next year in the third tranche.

The other practices joining Queenstown in the first tranche are Dunedin’s Amity Health Centre, Gore Health Centre and Gore Medical Centre.




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