New Zealand

Is New Zealand ideally placed to lead the Lifestyle Medicine revolution?

Dr Glen Davies from Taupo Medical Centre certainly thinks so.

“We, in New Zealand, are bulk funded – allowing us to look after our enrolled population in the way each practice or practitioner feels best.

Specifically, Shared Medical Appointments fit more easily into the NZ model, as there is no need to persuade the funders, eg: Medicare, that this is a series of individual consults (Item 23) run in the presence of a group, as is the current impediment in Australia.  Or better still, to develop an entirely separate item number for the SMA consultation.  If the practice feels it is of benefit to the patients and to the practice – we can just proceed.

Australia is trialling a limited version of the New Zealand Health Care Home (HCH) model. Limited in that only patients with chronic conditions are covered compared with the full model where the whole enrolled patient population is covered.

The full HCH model encourages wellness-orientated medicine, keeping people well, completely in line with Lifestyle Medicine principles.”

Dr Davies’ remarks reflect those in an article published by Medical Republic in March entitled “Kiwis show the way on Health Care Homes“(1). Referring to the success of their model, Helen Parker, General Manager of Health Care Home Strategic Development at Pinnacle (the Midlands Primary Health Network) explains, “It is a success not just in terms of hospital visits. That is not our main driver,” Parker said. “It’s a success in terms of being a much more convenient service for patients.”

The discussion about HCHs continues in another Medical republic article, “Why changing the GP model is worth the effort“(2), once again quoting Helen Parker; “Despite carrying the same name as the Australian government’s trial, the model is a “broader and radical redesign. It covers a redesign of the whole practice population, regardless of whether they are ill or not.”

There are of course a range of factors at play, such as how capitation funding is linked to benchmarks or targets, that will determine the success or otherwise of the Australian trial.  What is clear, however, is that there is an urgent need to develop a new way of thinking about health and disease, and consequently, a new approach to care. Lifestyle Medicine can help inform this thinking.


    1. Lambert, J 2018, ‘ Kiwis show the way on Health Care Homes’, Medical Republic, blog post, 28 March. Available from: [28 March 2018].
    2. Lambert, J 2018, ‘ Why changing the GP model is worth the effort’, Medical Republic, blog post, 13 April. Available from: [13 April 2018].

This article has been written for the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine (ASLM) by the documented original author. The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the ASLM or its Board.

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