AHHA: Data gaps mask true facts in final hospital report

17 December, 2009

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has expressed disappointment that the Productivity Commission's final report on public and private hospitals contains some serious data gaps.

"AHHA welcomes the finding of the Productivity Commission that public hospitals are performing efficiently and delivering good value to the community," Prue Power, AHHA executive director has said.

"However, we are concerned that the final report has not addressed some significant data gaps, identified by AHHA in the draft report, which prevent a more meaningful comparison of public and private hospitals.

"For example, the cost of medicines cannot be compared between the two sectors when PBS costs in private hospitals are not included. This is a glaring omission which undermines the credibility of the report in this area.

"We are also disappointed that the Commission did not include the cost of allied health care in the study. This represents a significant component of the cost of hospital care, in particular for people with chronic conditions. The cost of capital has also not been dealt within a comparable way across the sectors making comparisons in this area virtually. impossible.

"In addition to this, the Report does not include the cost involved in carrying out teaching responsibilities in public hospitals. This is a serious omission as public hospitals dedicate considerable resources to the important task of training the next generation of the Australian health care workforce.

"Finally, AHHA notes that the inclusion of public hospitals in remote and very remote areas adds to the average cost of public hospital care, due to the higher cost of providing care in these areas. AHHA believes that these hospitals should have been omitted from comparative cost calculations given that there are no private hospitals in these areas.

"However, AHHA welcomes the Commission's recommendation to move towards a more robust and nationally-consistent data collection on hospital-acquired infections, such as including private hospitals in national reporting arrangements.

"This will enable future reports to provide a more meaningful comparison between sectors and give governments, policy makers and the Australian community robust information about their hospital system," Power said.
Source: Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association