Collegiality and a willingness to learn from each other were themes as the Southern DHB’s first Health Care Home practices gathered in Queenstown.

Southern DHB and WellSouth Primary Health Network recently announced the first 16 general practices to become Southern Health Care Home practices.

The Health Care Home model promotes access to urgent and unplanned care, provides more preventative care and better support of people with complex needs.

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WellSouth and Southern DHB Health Care Home Manager Stuart Barson said it was heartening that 14 of the 16 practices were at the meeting.

The pathway from here would necessarily include practices learning from each other.

“Today is about building relationships between and within practices. We really want to drive that.”

Guest speaker Dr Jeff Lowe, of Karori Medical Centre and Chair of GPNZ, said the HCH framework had helped the practice along a path of innovation since it became a Health Care Home in 2015.

“Being a Health Care Home has brought clarity and direction to the path we are travelling. It’s brought a rigor and urgency through targets and monitoring.”

The patient portal was the most transformative change and nine out of 10 Karori patients now used it to manage their health.

Tangible benEfits were being seen in a reduction in Emergency Department attendances.

Lisa Gestro said the HCH rollout demonstrated the Southern DHB’s commitment to the primary care sector.

“We value and we believe in primary care . . .  We’ve come a long way. Our destiny is now in our own hands.”

Queenstown Medical Centre is among the first four Southern practices to become a Health Care Home.

Dr Richard Macharg said the Queenstown practice had found the HCH process very valuable and “we’re very committed to it.”