The federal government has announced a new $50 million research initiative to drive innovation in primary care as part of its reforms to strengthen Medicare.
Primary care is often the first place a patient turns when they have a health concern, whether that be their local general practice, a nurse practitioner or allied health professional.
According to the government, the $50 million research initiative will ‘supercharge’ innovation that will benefit all Australians, especially groups with poorer access to healthcare.
Priority groups will include older Australians, lower income households and families, people with complex chronic disease, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, LGBTIQA+ Australians, First Nations people, as well as people in regional, rural and remote areas.
Funding will be targeted to research in three areas:
- Identifying and evaluating models of primary care in which patients receive care from GPs and other health professionals, including voluntary patient registration at a practice, innovative models for rural and remote communities, and term-based care
- application of research findings in primary care settings, and spreading knowledge to improve person-centred care
- better use of data and digital technology such as electronic medical records to evaluate models of primary care and support health system planning
An Expert Advisory Panel will be appointed to fast-track development of the new Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Primary Health Research Plan, expected to be released in the latter half of 2023, which will fund research projects from July 2024.
“Our historic investments in Medicare deliver the largest investment in bulk billing in the 40-year history of Medicare, alongside $2.2 billion worth of reforms to strengthen Medicare,” Health Minister Mark Butler said.
“As we build a stronger Medicare, we need to do more than just invest and hope it works, we need to map and measure innovation to know what works, so we can scale up the successful innovations.”