Patient Centred Medical Home (PCMH) transitions in western Sydney, Australia: a qualitative study

BMC Health Serv Res. 2020 Apr 6;20(1):285. doi: 10.1186/s12913-020-05123-7.


Background: Patient Centred Medical Homes (PCMHs), increasingly evidenced to provide high quality primary care, are new to Australia. To learn how this promising new healthcare model works in an Australian setting we explored experiences of healthcare providers in outer urban Sydney, where a number of practices are transitioning from traditional Australian general practice models to incorporate elements of PCMH approaches.

Methods: We collected qualitative data from semi-structured interviews with healthcare providers working in a range of transitioning practices and thematically analysed the data. We interviewed 35 participants including general practitioners, practice managers and practice nurses from 25 purposively sampled general practices in western Sydney, Australia, seeking maximal variation in practice size, patient demographics and type of engagement in practice transformation.

Results: Interviewees described PCMH transformation highlighting the importance of whole of practice engagement with a shared vision; key strategies for transformation to PCMH models of care including leadership, training and supportive information technology; structures and processes required to provide team-based, data-driven care; and constraints such as lack of space and the current Australian fee-for-service general practice funding model. They also reported their perceptions of early outcomes of the PCMH model of care, describing enhanced patient and staff satisfaction and also noting fewer hospital admissions, as likely to reduce costs of care.

Conclusions: Our study exploring the experience of early adopters of PCMH models of care in Australia, informs the international movement towards PCMH models of care. Our findings provide guidance for practices considering similar transitions and describe the challenges of such transitions within a fee-for-service payment system.

Keywords: Continuity of patient care; General practice; Patient Centred medical home; Primary care; Primary health care; Qualitative research.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Continuity of Patient Care
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Diffusion of Innovation
  • Female
  • General Practice
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Patient-Centered Care* / economics
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Health Care*