Reports highlight the need for coordinated health services

08 November, 2013

Reports released by the Council of Australian Government Reform Council (COAG) and the National Health Performance Authority (NHPA) have highlighted the importance of health services that are coordinated across the primary, acute and community sectors.

"While the rate of preventable admissions is improving, there is still significant room for improvement as there are large variations across Australia and waiting times for elective surgery and GP service remain too long," Alison Verhoeven, chief executive of the AHHA said.

"With healthcare costs continuing to rise and hospitals struggling to meet increasing demand there have been calls for radical overalls of the funding and governance structures in the Australian health system.  But as the COAG report shows the pace of reform is slow."

Before launching into another round of reform, governments would do well to consider the existing models of care that have steadily been gaining support and credibility over recent years.

Unnecessarily long stays in hospital and avoidable admissions are clearly areas of waste in the health system which provide the opportunity for better use of resources.

Better coordination of care across the primary, acute and community sectors is an important component of improving the efficiency of services.

"The work being done by Medicare Locals in collaboration with Local Hospital Networks is a great example of how the system can be made to work more smoothly and efficiently.  

"Hospital in the Home programs are another excellent example of services that improve efficiency and deliver high quality effective services that are valued by patients and their families," said Alison Verhoeven.

A key challenge for the government is to further refine the funding model for services that cross over the traditional boundaries between hospitals and community based services.

The Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association represents Australia's largest group of health care providers in public hospitals, community and primary health sectors and advocates for universal high quality healthcare to benefit the whole community.

To assist its members to improve efficiency and reduce waste the AHHA has recently partnered with international training provider Leading Edge to deliver Lean Thinking training to the health sector.