Health Care Homes: for consumers

This page contains information for consumers about Health Care Homes.

Page last updated: 29 June 2017

About Health Care Homes

One in four Australians have at least two chronic health conditions1. For these people, our health system can seem hard to navigate and disjointed. Different health professionals and services work in isolation from each other; care is often un-coordinated; and patients can find it difficult to get to different services and appointments.

A Health Care Home is a general practice or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service (ACCHS) that coordinates care for patients with chronic and complex conditions

In an Australian first, 200 practices and ACCHS around Australia will soon begin trialling Health Care Homes. Twenty practices will begin Health Care Home services on 1 October 2017. The other 180 will begin on 1 December 2017.

People with chronic and complex conditions, who could benefit from Health Care Homes’ flexible, coordinated care can enrol as Health Care Homes patients.

A patient who is eligible can choose to enrol, and also chooses a GP - usually the GP they have already been seeing - who knows them, their health conditions and priorities. This doctor leads a care team which will look after that patient.

Together, a patient and their care team will then develop and follow a shared care plan which will:

  • set health goals
  • include strategies to help each patient better manage their conditions and improve their quality of life
  • identify the best local providers who can meet each patient’s needs.

In line with this plan, Health Care Homes will also coordinate that patient’s care. For example, if a patient sees their specialist or goes to hospital, their Health Care Home will follow up. That way, they know about all the care that person receives, both inside and outside the Health Care Home.

Rather than receiving a payment each time a patient has an appointment, Health Care Homes will be paid a monthly payment to care for a patient’s chronic and complex conditions. This flexible funding allows Health Care Homes to be innovative in the way they care for their patients.

Many people with chronic and complex conditions are bulk billed by their GP. Health Care Homes are encouraged to continue to bulk bill enrolled patients. However, it will be up to each Health Care Home to tell patients if they will pay a gap fee.

Image of a health care professional talking to a patient

What are the benefits for patients?
Can I become a Health Care Home patient?
If I am enrolled with a Health Care Home can I see another doctor?
Can I still visit the podiatrist and other health professionals?
I am Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander. Will my care change under Health Care Homes?

What are the benefits for patients?

If you have several health conditions, you know that there are a lot of things to keep an eye on - your symptoms, medications, appointments and advice from different health professionals.

Wouldn’t it be good if there was one team coordinating your care?

A Health Care Home will coordinate care for patients with chronic and complex conditions.

Health Care Homes can also be more flexible in the way they look after their patients.

For example, the practice nurse at a Health Care Home might call a patient regularly, to check on their symptoms or contact the local pharmacy to talk about a patient’s scripts.

Each Health Care Home patient will also be able to choose their GP - someone in the practice who knows them and their history. A patient’s care team, led by that GP, will then work together with the patient, looking after them and helping them better manage their health.

Can I become a Health Care Home patient?

If you

  • have a Medicare card
  • have a My Health Record or are willing to get one 
  • would benefit from the Health Care Home model of care
  • and are assessed as eligible by a participating Health Care Home

then you could enrol as a patient.

If you would like to become a Health Care Home patient, ask your GP if their practice is a Health Care Homes.

To see the list of the 200 Health Care Homes practices, go to the successful grant recipients section on the Tenders and Grants page.

If I am enrolled with a Health Care Home can I see another doctor?

If you are travelling for example, you can see another doctor. But when you are at home, you should always try to go to your Health Care Home.

Can I still visit the podiatrist and other allied health professionals?

Yes. Medicare payments for allied health services such as podiatrists will not change. However, Health Care Homes will work closely with allied health providers, sharing information and planning the care each patient needs.

I am Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander. Will my care change under Health Care Homes?

If your local ACCHS, or the practice you usually visit, becomes a Health Care Home you can ask your doctor or practice receptionist for more information about Health Care Homes.

If are able to enrol as a Health Care Home patient (Can I become a Health Care Home patient?) then your care team at the practice will coordinate your care, from visits to the GP, through to specialist visits, scripts, blood pressure checks, physiotherapy, podiatry and other health services.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services around Australia will also become Health Care Homes.

Each Health Care Home will also work with the integrated team care (ITC) program arrangements for chronic care; and will coordinate other health services provided by state, territory and local governments or by community groups.

For more health professionals’ information, go to the Health Care Homes for health professionals page.

1 AIHW data release on chronic disease (September 2016). 23 per cent of Australians have two or more of the eight selected chronic diseases in 2014-2015.