Aiming for value and quality care: health policy research released today

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Clinical quality registries are increasingly acknowledged in Australia and internationally as an enabler for health reforms aimed at improving health outcomes, lowering health costs and increasing health care value. 

In ‘Towards a strategy for clinical quality registries in Australia’, published today in the Australian Health Review, Ahern et al note that Australia boasts world-class clinical registries with a focus on quality and safety, in areas including trauma and critical care, prostate cancer and joint replacements. The authors advocate for improved governance, funding and data, and a leadership role for the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care. 

‘In addition to supporting quality improvement efforts, strategic planning and investment in registries is an important step towards a value-based approach to health care,’ says Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA). The AHHA is the publisher of the Australian Health Review and will launch the Australian Centre for Value-Based Health Care in Melbourne on 11 June.

Safety and quality is also the focus of a paper by Walton et al on disclosure of adverse events. Although national open disclosure standards have been in place since 2012, a study conducted in NSW hospitals found that most patients received informal disclosures and recommended that guidelines should be developed to help clinicians improve their communications about adverse events.

Electronic medication management systems (eMMS) are widely viewed as being key to improving medication safety. In ‘Review of medication errors that are new or likely to occur more frequently with electronic medication management systems’, van de Vreede et al found that while eMMS technology removes many medication errors, it is not a panacea and continuous monitoring of errors is important.

‘Spending promises on medicines were a feature of the 2019 election campaign, and while the value achieved through these investments may not yet be robustly assessed, there is a close alignment with the priorities identified in research on the community views on medicines expenditure,’ says Ms Verhoeven. 

Chim et al found that the Australian public considers disease severity should be the most important priority for government spending on medicines, followed by medicines used to treat children or to treat cancer.

A reduction in avoidable hospitalisations for acutely unwell people in residential aged care can be achieved by a multi component program that includes telephone triage services, according to a study undertaken by Ling et al. In addition to cost savings, emergency department efficiency is improved and care may be more consistent with the person’s goals for care. 

‘The health needs of people living in residential aged care are in focus as the Royal Commission into Aged Care conducts its inquiry. This paper provides evidence that care can be improved when hospitals, Primary Health Networks, general practice and ambulance services work closely with aged care providers to address complex issues such as avoidable hospitalisations,’ says Ms Verhoeven.

The June 2019 issue of Australian Health Review is available online. Some articles are freely available through open access, while others need a subscription or can be purchased individually.

Media contact: Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive AHHA. Phone 0403282501