Primary Health Organisation

Primary Health Organisation

Primary Health Organisation

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Primary Health Organisations (PHOs), in New Zealand, are health care providers that are funded on a capitation basis by the New Zealand Government via District Health Boards. They are usually set up as not-for-profit trusts, and have as their goal the improvement of their population's health.


In the early 1990s, general practitioners (GPs) were joining together to form independent practitioner association (IPAs). They did this to better negotiate with the purchasers of healthcare at that time.

Prior to the introduction of PHOs, general practitioners were paid using a fee-for-service model. For every person that went through their door, the GP received a set amount of money from the state. For some time, the Government had been trying to introduce a capitation model, that is, give practices a set amount of money depending on the population they served. The formation of the voluntary IPAs gave the Government an important stepping stone to introduce capitation-based funding.

The Government introduced PHOs, which were similar to the IPAs, in 2001, with the first PHOs being formed in July 2002.

Structure and goals

A PHO is set up as a not-for-profit organisation with both community and provider representation. They maintain a list of their enrolled populations for which they get funding. PHOs include not just GPs and...
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