Western Queensland PHN – Building Primary Healthcare Capability Through Collaborative Commissioning (Queensland, Australia)

Western Queensland Primary Health Network (WQPHN)

The client

As one of Australia’s 31 Primary Health Networks, Western Queensland PHN (WQPHN) is responsible for addressing health needs and improving health outcomes in its region.

Western Queensland is an extraordinarily remote region with a population of 63,000 people living across an area the size of France and Germany combined (nearly 1 million square kilometres).

People living in Western Queensland face a unique set of challenges in maintaining and accessing good healthcare including large travel distances, an ageing workforce and a need for improved integration between health service providers.

WQPHN also has the second highest Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander population in Australia with high socio-economic deprivation. WQPHN’s population therefore has high health risk factors and poor health outcomes compared with Australian and State norms.

The challenge

WQPHN’s extreme remoteness creates unique challenges, including a fragile and thin provider market for health services.

WQPHN recognises the critical importance of building collaborative delivery partnerships with their healthcare providers and understands the limitations of using competitive approaches when trying to build sustainable healthcare in remote regions.

WQPHN therefore requested support from Rebbeck to help develop an approach for enhancing the delivery capability of existing providers and foster innovation and improvement.

The impact of our work

Rebbeck worked closely with Western Queensland PHN’s leadership team to develop the following set of commissioning principles:


WQPHN Commissioning Principles

  1. Support Western Queensland Healthcare Home Model of Care
  2. Applied health intelligence to support evidence informed approaches
  3. Deliver culturally appropriate services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
  4. Active stakeholder collaboration in planning and evaluation
  5. Optimise self management and client engagement
  6. Promote clinical leadership
  7. Support innovation, partnerships and value
  8. Place based approaches

Western Queensland’s commissioning principles formed the basis for the development of a Provider Capability Assessment Tool.

This online tool was used to assess the capabilities of providers and assess the alignment of provider practice with WQPHN’s commissioning principles.

Working through the capability questions in this tool gave health service providers a deep understanding of the components of high-quality integrated service delivery.

It also supported these remote providers to assess their strengths and areas for improvement against contemporary models of care.

This process also gave valuable feedback to WQPHN in highlighting the common areas of capability development to target future PHN capability building efforts.