HealthLinks: Chronic Care aimed to improve care for patients at high risk of multiple unplanned hospital admissions, many of whom had chronic and complex conditions.
The initiative tested whether a flexible funding model could:
- remove some of the barriers that inhibit effective and integrated models of care for patients
- promote innovative models of care that produce better outcomes for patients at no additional cost to the public health system.
Participating health services had the flexibility to use projected inpatient funding to design care around the needs of patients at high risk of multiple unplanned hospital admissions. This could include services that reached beyond traditional hospital-based settings, delivered by a range of providers.
Health services had the flexibility to develop their own intervention model, with some services taking a continuous service improvement approach and others developing new models of care.
The flexible funding initiative was offered from 2016-17 to 2021-22. Five health services participated in the initiative for varying lengths of time.
Partnerships and project aims
The department entered into a partnership with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to evaluate the HealthLinks trial, as a prospective study using quantitative and qualitative analysis.
The overall aim of the HealthLinks evaluation was to determine if flexible funding enabled health services to develop and implement alternative models (to inpatient acute care) that provided better experiences and outcomes for patients with chronic conditions, at equal or lower cost.
Secondary aims included determining the impact of the flexible funding model on the delivery of care from a system perspective and, where possible, a patient perspective.
Evaluation findings from the first year of implementation (2016-17) and the final summary evaluation report which draws on the findings and results of the HealthLinks three year trial, are available to download.
Each health service had the opportunity to develop their own intervention model. This approach enabled health services to tailor their approach to best suit the local context and needs of their patient cohort.
Intervention models could take a continuous service improvement approach or could be new models of care. They could also include inpatient care and services that reached beyond the traditional hospital walls.
All models aimed to deliver a more comprehensive and integrated mix of services.
On 15 March 2017, some participating health services showcased their models at a forum.
Presentations from the day are available from the downloads section on this page.
The HealthLinks: Chronic Care Clinical Collaborative provided clinical oversight and leadership for HealthLinks: Chronic Care.
Specifically, the collaborative:
- supported a cooperative approach to sharing HealthLinks Chronic Care tools, processes and learnings
- provided clinical advice on the design of interventions and commissioning models
- identified best practice and protocols
- facilitated changing models of care
- improved links between hospital program areas (emergency, acute, subacute, substitution and diversion services) to improve care pathways for people with chronic and complex conditions.
The group consisted of senior managers from participating health services.
Reviewed 03 August 2022