A note from the Chair – Building New Opportunities for Integrated Care

I am delighted to be writing this blog as the new Chair of IFIC Australia and, in so doing, to pay tribute to our outgoing Chair – Peter McGeorge – for his commitment and enthusiasm over the past 2 years. I’m also pleased to learn that we have gained a new Platinum partnership with our friends at Sydney LHD and South Eastern Sydney LHD in collaboration with Central and Eastern Sydney PHN. This two-year agreement seeks to focus on integrated care in metropolitan areas, a context that brings its own set of challenges, and we are planning an educational and learning programme for next year to be held in Sydney.

As many of you will know, I have immigrated to Australia to build a new research institute based on the Central Coast that will be dedicated to integrated and population health. A key focus for the Institute will be to build capacity and support to innovations in integrated care on the Central Coast by working with the widest range of community partners.

As we know from other places – such as Clalit in Israel; Intermountain in the USA; Kinzigtal, Germany; Norrtaelje, Sweden; and the Basque Country, Spain – the acceleration of successful innovations in this field move at a faster and more sustainable pace when the system benefits from having an active research and innovation partner sitting alongside it.

My hopes are high that we can demonstrate such value here on the Central Coast in Australia, as well as look beyond these borders to work with partners across Australia and the Asia-Pacific. Our ongoing association with IFIC and IFIC Australia will be important in growing that capability, so I am very happy to take on the role of Chair to promote the growth of what IFIC Australia is seeking to achieve.

I also sense there remains great enthusiasm for integrated care as a means to promote value in care delivery and to embrace and tackle ‘wicked problems’ in population health. At the 7th National PHN Forum in Canberra on 10-12 September I was privileged to listen to so many great ideas and projects that are ongoing in this space, and the enthusiasm for creating learning networks in Queensland and Victoria that IFIC Australia and its partners might help to convene to stretch its base from NSW.

A key message from this Forum was the need to connect better with our communities. So to move away from health-centric and institutionally-based care towards more holistic approaches that take care and support upstream into primary and community settings. Moreover, the need to engage and empower communities, and build resilience, was a common emerging theme – whether this be related to dealing with the mental health impact of drought, to the inequalities faced by indigenous peoples, to the fragmented way in which older people’s care and support is managed.

I look forward to being central to this debate for the years to come.

Professor Nick Goodwin is the Director of the Central Coast Research Institute for Integrated Care and Population Health, a joint venture of the University of Newcastle and Central Coast Local Health District. Nick was the co-Founder and former CEO of the International Foundation for Integrated Care