Sharon Willcox, Geraint Lewis, Jako Burgers
Recent reforms in Australia, England, and the Netherlands have sought to enhance the quality and accessibility of primary care. Quality improvement strategies include postgraduate training programs for family physicians, accreditation of general practitioner (GP) practices, and efforts to modify professional behaviors—for example, through clinical guideline development. Strategies for improving access include national performance targets, greater use of practice nurses, assured after-hours care, and medical advice telephone lines. All three countries have established midlevel primary care organizations both to coordinate primary care health services and to serve other functions, such as purchasing and population health planning. Better coordination of primary health care services is also the objective driving the use of patient enrollment in a single general practice. Payment reform is also a key element of English and Australian reforms, with both countries having introduced payment-for-quality initiatives. Dutch payment reform has stressed financial incentives for better management of chronic disease.