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Gore Medical Centre credentialled as a Health Care Home practice, First practice in Southern to receive accreditation

Thursday 01 September 2022

 The Gore Medical Centre (GMC) is celebrating a milestone in primary care in Southern.

GMC is the first general practice in Otago and Southland to be credentialled as a Health Care Home practice - a programme helping to increase capacity and capability in general practice.

The accreditation is the culmination of more than four years of work for the practice. GMC now joins the ranks of other primary care providers in Aotearoa-New Zealand and worldwide to have implemented initiatives that help improve patient access to care and experience of care, support workforce sustainability, and promote quality improvements within the practice.

Gore Medical Practice Manager Susan Jones receives Health Care Home accreditation certificate from WellSouth Health Care Home Facilitator Ali Wilden.

Prioritising equity in all programmes of work – a New Zealand-specific criteria – is another feature introduced since Gore and three other practices in Southern started the programme in 2018.

“It has been incredibly helpful to have these improvements and better processes in place,” says Susan Jones, Gore Medical practice manager. “It’s been a lot of work on the part of all our staff but the most important thing is that there’s improved experience for patients, including better access to the care they need, and, in some cases that care can be delivered without them having to physically come into the practice. 

“For some patients who live some distance from town, the opportunity to have a telephone consultation has been a win-win and saves the patient time.”

Among the highlights that have helped improve how the practice with more than 8,000 enrolled patients operates and delivers care to patients are:

GP/clinical triage. Patients seeking a same-day appointment get a call from a GP or nurse. The system helps to better manage acute demand, with patients in most need of care getting same day appointments while others may have their issues resolved over the phone or an appointment made for another time.

Telehealth. Alternative ways of accessing care, including telephone and video consults. Patients for whom this is appropriate can receive care without having to come into the clinic, while freeing up in-person appointments for those who need them most.

Patient portal. The practice increased the uptake of smart phone apps that enable patients to order repeat prescriptions, book appointments, email their clinician directly and view tests results.

Morning staff huddles. Short, stand-up meetings each morning to share updates and ensure clarity of communication for staff on-duty.  

New phone system. GMC introduced a more robust phone system – allowing for reports on call wait times and reducing any missed or dropped calls. Phones were moved away from the front desk, allowing reception staff to support patients in front of them without distraction. Another more recent improvement has been the option for patients to leave a voice message.

Workforce. The team developed a workforce plan including recruiting Health Care Assistants who can help with blood pressure checks, screen for recalls, and more – freeing up nurses and GPs to do more high-level clinical activity.

Prioritising Equity - clinical and cultural leadership focus on Māori health,  well-being and ongoing collaboration with Hokonui Runanga. The practice has recently resumed holding clinics at the local Kohanga reo in Gore and Mataura.

A consistent commitment to making progress has helped Gore Medical to be the first to reach the HCH milestone, says Ali Wilden, WellSouth Health Care Home facilitator: “Gore Medical has a history of being innovative, whether in response to securing workforce or embracing new technology, and it has helped them to reorientate themselves to be better. I know they will continue on their work for the benefit of the community.” 

Staff commitment and support were critical to help the practice achieve its goals, says Susan. “We owe our success to our staff who were willing to make changes and had the attitude to improve as a result. It’s made all the difference.”

Committed to continuous improvement, the team aims to keep working to make things better including increasing uptake of video and telephone consults and leveraging technology to help improve care and access to care. 

With the health reforms rolling out across the country, Susan anticipates that the Gore Medical Centre will be in a better place to manage the changes, thanks to the groundwork of the Health Care Home programme. 

About Health Care Home

The Health Care Home (HCH) is a model of care based around the general practice and designed to improve the quality and sustainability of services as well as the experience of both patients and staff.


About the Southern Health Care Home Programme

WellSouth’s Southern Health Care Home programme has supported 32 of its 80 general practices in Otago and Southland to join the programme since July 2018, representing nearly 200,000 enrolled patients.

The Gore Medical Centre was part of the first group of four practices to start in July 2018. Three more practices rounded out the first intake consisting of Gore Health, Amity Health and Queenstown Medical. A second cohort of Broadway Medical, Aspiring Health, Wanaka Medical and Junction Health joined the programme in March 2019.

Clutha Health First, Invercargill Medical, North End Medical, Health Central, Te Kaika Hauora and Mornington Health, began the HCH journey a year later in July 2019. These practices have completed, or are in their final year of the full three-year HCH programme.

To ensure the building blocks (most useful parts to get started on) of the HCH programme and the associated funding were able to support as many practices as possible, a shorter two-year programme was introduced in November 2020.  Between then and now, a further 18 practices have utilised this funding to support change in their practices, Aurora Health, Catherine Street Medical,  Central Medical, He Puna Waiora, South City Medical, Dunedin Health Centre, Dunedin North Medical, Dunedin South Medical, Fiordland Medical, Mosgiel Health, Alexandra Family  Health, Māori Hill Clinic, Mataura Medical, Murihiku Medical and Queens Park General Practice.

The final cohort of practices, Gaius Family Health, Oamaru Doctors, and Winton Medical, started in February 2022. We look forward to supporting these practices through the HCH Continuous Improvement journey.


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