The National Evaluation of the Primary Health Network Program

Project Status
Current

Chief Investigators
Prof Mark Harris, Dr Sue Kirby, A/Prof Gawaine Powell Davies, A/Prof Ben Harris-Roxas, Ms Caitlin Francis, Ms Rebecca Jessop, Ms Julia Schulz, Ms Karen Edwards

Rationale

Primary Health Networks are Australia’s newest Primary Health Organisations, established in July 2015 to replace Medicare Locals. CPHCE has partnered with Ernst and Young and Monash University to conduct the national evaluation of the Primary Health Network Program. The partnership brings together expert research and consultancy experience to provide a rigorous and grounded assessment of a major policy initiative which has significant potential to impact the integration of care and to improve the health of populations through devolving responsibilities for health planning and commissioning to the regional level. The evaluation is funded by the Australian Government and is being carried out early in the life of the program over the period 1 July 2015 – Dec 2017. Findings will contribute to shaping the national primary health care policy agenda. 

Aims

The evaluation aims to assess the extent to which the PHN program has met its objectives, including whether the program

  • Has improved the coordination of care to ensure patients receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time;
  • Has increased the efficiency and effectiveness of medical services for patients, particularly those at risk of poor health outcomes; and
  • Whether PHNs are on track to becoming effective primary health care organisations. 

Design and Method

The evaluation is using a mixed method approach, drawing on program logics developed at program and PHN levels, and on data collected through surveys, case studies, a costing study and consultations with a wide range of stakeholders from government, the non-government and community sectors, and professional organisations. An international academic reference group from the UK and New Zealand provides review and advice.  A series of progress reports containing immediate findings are being provided throughout the evaluation and feedback of key results to a national workshop.