Simple way to provide better health care costing less - Primary Health Care Centres

Sean Keane

Reporter:

Sean Keane

Dr Tadhg Crowley, Aoife O'Donnell, Euromedic and Dr Frank Chambers pictured during the Conference to Focus on Future for GPs in Primary Healthcare, at Lyrath Estate Hotel on Wednesday. Photo: Pat Moore.
One theory of stupidity is: Keep doing things the same way expecting a different outcome.

One theory of stupidity is: Keep doing things the same way expecting a different outcome.

It equates to maintaining the Irish health service as it is - annual drama over costs, over-runs and vested interests. There is an easy, cost effective solution which is proven to work.

It was highlighted at the Primary Healthcare Conference in Kilkenny city last week which was hosted by Investnet Healthcare, in association with the Ayrfield Medical Practice, Granges Road, Kilkenny.

A report detailing the actual and projected primary care spending of Rhode Island’s three largest commercial health insurers: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island was disclosed.

Dr David Moloney from Mallow pointed out that a 37% increase in spending for Primary Health Care Centres (PHCCs) over five years led to a 14% reduction in the overall health spend.

It means that the insurers received a return of 15 times on their investment

In this country it is the government who would benefit from this return

The downside

OK, it will reward those who develop primary care centres while taking cash away from those with an interest in hospital based medicine.

If we do nothing the health spend in this country will go from E13 billion to E18 billion in the next 10 years due to the obesity crisis

The facts are indisputable - These centres will reduce our health care costs dramatically but the impact on others placed in the hierarchy of medicine in Ireland seem to be stopping the Government for implementing the strategy on primary health care.

From what was said at the conference, it would appear that changing the status quo and removing the power from those who have it now would cause medo-political chaos.

This models like Ayrfield will not work everywhere and rural GPs will still be needed but why aren’t PHCCs not being rolled out nationally with gusto - It is hard to fathom.

Insurance companies are cold and calculating and Blue Cross Blue in the US, realise they are on to a good thing because these PHCCs dramatically reduce costs, brings health care back into the community and allows GPs provide services, like removing ingrown toe nails and treating minor venereal diseases in their surgeries instead of in hospitals where it is dearer to provide them.

The Rhode Island report recommends: Expand and improve the primary care infrastructure; Spread the adoption of patient-centred medical homes; Work toward comprehensive payment reform across the health care system.

Dr Tadhg Crowley, Ayrfield Medical Practice said general practice in Ireland is working to a 1970s contract and that it needed change. “It is the only arm of the health service that provides a same day service and comes in on budget yet the present Government has repeatedly slashed its budget.”