..



.

Business News

More hospitals will not cure Australia's ailing health-care system. There's a more efficient way

  • Written by Steven Bond-Smith, Research Fellow, Bankwest-Curtin Economics Centre, Curtin University

The federal government has just promised to increase spending on public hospitals from A$21.7 billion in 2018 to A$26.2 billion by 2023. Expect more hospital promises in coming weeks. There is a long history of parties at both state and federal level pledging new hospitals during election campaigns.

Building new hospitals may at first seem sensible, especially as the population grows. But it will not cure the health system’s most pressing ailment. Instead, our research[1] shows it’s more effective to focus health policy on people and prevention.

A problem of demand

It is true that hospitals in Australia aren’t keeping up with demand. Though supply of beds has increased, the population is growing while also ageing. This is increasing demand for all health-care services, including hospital beds.

The following graph shows the change in the number of beds per 1,000 people in all states and territories since 2006. Only in the Australian Capital Territory has the ratio improved.

image Available hospital beds per 1000 population, by region, public hospitals (including psychiatric). Bankwest Curtin Economic Centre | AIHA (various years), Australian hospital statistics, Health Services Series; AIHW (various years), hospital resources' Australian hospital statistics, Health services series.[2]

State and federal governments thus feel a lot of pressure to spend more on hospitals. In 2016-2017 it was $69 billion[3] Australia-wide – $2 billion more than the previous year. The following graph shows expenditure on public hospitals by state over the past two decades.

image Public hospital spending in each state since 1996. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, CC BY[4][5]

Queensland shows the greatest growth over the past two decades. In Western Australia, where we did our research, the proportion of government health budgets spent on public hospitals rose from 26% to 31%.

Preventive measures

We looked at why the hospital care is growing faster than the overall health sector, and what can be done about this.

Our conclusion: there needs to be more focus on the “unsexy” parts of the health-care system that treat people before they get sick enough to need a hospital. Prevention is cheaper and more effective than cure.

Read more: More visits to the doctor doesn't mean better care – it's time for a Medicare shake-up[6]

For example, it is estimated that A$9 million invested in anti-smoking campaigns[7] between 1997 and 2007 saved A$740 million on smoking-related illnesses like lung cancer.

Yet our breakdown of health spending in Western Australia shows just 1.7% is spent on preventive measures – called “public health spending”. Australia-wide the average percentage is even less, according to research[8] from La Trobe University and the Australian Preventative Partnership Centre.

image Breakdown of health care spending in WA. Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre | Authors’ calculations from AIHW health expenditure database.[9]

Early medical attention is another way to reduce the need for hospitals. In analysing data from around Western Australia between 2009 and 2016, we generally found that increasing visits to general practitioners reduced the incidence of avoidable deaths (deaths that could have been avoided with better treatment or prevention).

People-centred approach

Limited prevention and early detection comes back to the way we fund health care. Australia’s health system is funded using a “hospital-centred[10]” rather than “people-centred” approach.

This means hospitals are funded by the number of patients cared for and the type of procedures done. Hospital and GPs are funded separately. There is no incentive to cooperate and keep people out of hospitals.

A people-centred approach, on the other hand, would give funds based on patients’ health outcomes, rather than their particular treatments. GPs would be paid to manage patients, with the goal of keeping them out of hospital.

This system would particularly help people living in remote and rural regions, including Indigenous Australians, who are disadvantaged by the relative lack of resources being spent on local and preventive health.

The Canterbury model

image The Canterbury region in New Zealand. English Wiki[11]

The best example of such a people-centred system is New Zealand’s Canterbury model[12] – named after the Canterbury region on New Zealand’s South Island (which includes Christchurch).

Instead of separate budgets for GPs and hospitals, Canterbury created a “one system, one budget” approach. This led to new programs that weren’t possible under the old system. An example is Healthpathways[13], which brought together GPs and specialists to decide on treatement programs for individual patients.

In working to make hospitals the last resort, more time and resources have gone to GPs. There are now more 24-hour clinics, for example, making it easier to get treated by a local doctor when needed.

Read more: Infographic: a snapshot of hospitals in Australia[14]

A study of the Canterbury system[15] showed that between 2007 and 2014 the number of people being hospitalised declined from 6.59 to 5.83 per 1,000. While an 11% decline may not seem huge, it represents a significant financial saving, given the high cost of hospitalisation.

Canterbury shows what can be achieved by rethinking how health care funding works. Australia has the opportunity to reimagine its health care system in a similar way.

New hospitals get a lot of attention. Politicians can point to them as concrete evidence they’re doing something to help. But emphasising hospitals as the most important part of the health system comes at a cost, and will only get more so as the population ages.

It’s time to discuss alternatives. Putting more resources into prevention and people is the right medicine for our future health needs.

Authors: Steven Bond-Smith, Research Fellow, Bankwest-Curtin Economics Centre, Curtin University

Read more http://theconversation.com/more-hospitals-will-not-cure-australias-ailing-health-care-system-theres-a-more-efficient-way-111084

Business Daily Media Business Development

Bahrain Property Show 2018: How does it reflect the real estate market development in Bahrain

It is no secret that the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are currently going through a lot of pivotal changes. Such changes do not include economic or po...

News Company - avatar News Company

Di Jones real estate recognises high achievers

Di Jones celebrated its outstanding performers on Saturday (24 February 2018) evening at the Di Jones Real Estate Annual Awards.                               The black-tie Gala Dinner s...

Helen Hull - avatar Helen Hull

Five Reasons Melbourne Rules

If you are traveling in Australia and have left Melbourne off your destination list, then you are going to want to reconsider. Many people consider Melbourne to the best city in the world...

News Feature Team - avatar News Feature Team

Making Friends During Your Campsite Stay

Part of the excitement of vacation is meeting people who you would never otherwise encounter. Staying at a campsite isn’t just about taking in nature. It’s also about sharing the beauty of n...

News Feature Team - avatar News Feature Team

Have More Fun On Your Business Trips

Whether you are a traveling salesman or someone who finds themselves on the road more than in their office you probably are grateful for any tips you can get especially if they involve havin...

News Feature Team - avatar News Feature Team

Traditions of Rural Bali at Villa Sabana

A Privileged Insight into the Traditions of Rural Bali at Villa Sabana  Situated in the traditional village of Pererenan near Canggu, Villa Sabana is peacefully secluded in a semi-rural...

Linda Lim - avatar Linda Lim

Business Daily Media Business Reports

Di Jones real estate recognises high achievers

Di Jones celebrated its outstanding performers on Saturday (24 February 2018) evening at the Di Jones Real Estate Annual Awards.                               The bla...

Helen Hull - avatar Helen Hull

Eclipse Travel Expands Operations to New Zealand

Eclipse Travel, specialists in key adventure destinations such as Antarctica, the Arctic, Africa and Latin America, have announced today their expansion of operations to ...

Yvonne Kong - avatar Yvonne Kong

How medical professionals can benefit from an overall wealth management solution

As a health care professional, you have made it your life's work to focus on the care and health of the general public. While this kind of work can be extremely rewarding...

News Feature Team - avatar News Feature Team

Why Pinterest Should Be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Pinterest is a growing social media platform that can deliver significant traffic to your website and new followers to your brand. With it’s steady growth and outrageous ...

Greg Nunan - avatar Greg Nunan

The top reasons why gyms fail

Steve Grant is a Business Coach and Founder of GymHub.com.au   Every month thousands of new trainers walk out of their 6-month course with the qualifications needed ...

Steve Grant - avatar Steve Grant

WHITE LABEL NOBA’s Winter 2016 season: Earth + Country

Taking cues from the warm winter colours of tobacco and caramel, and combining them with the strength of navy and the embracing lightness of whites and creams; and then...

Kath Rose - avatar Kath Rose

Former Etihad boss brings substantial event insight to PMY Group Board

Paul Sergeant PMY Group, the architects of the digital insurgency occurring at major venues across Australia and New Zealand, are delighted to welcome 35 year even...

Annie Konieczny - avatar Annie Konieczny

More training for coffee making than property sales: REINSW

Sydney 9 May 2016. An overhaul of education and training standards for the real estate profession must take place to help prevent illegal activities, according to the Rea...

Helen Hull - avatar Helen Hull