Atlas of Healthcare Variation points the way to better healthcare for all

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

‘The Third Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation, released today by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, points the way towards better healthcare for all’, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Senior Research Director Dr Linc Thurecht said today.

‘The report highlights where changes are most needed to improve equity of access to needed care, and reduce the potential harm and waste resulting from unnecessary prescriptions and procedures.

‘The work of the Commission is extremely important, and the wide variations in healthcare shown in the report should be a concern for governments, health professionals and private health insurers alike’, Dr Thurecht said.

‘For example, in children aged 0–9 years, the antibiotic medicine use rate in Australia is three times that of Norway and the Netherlands.

‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians have higher rates of cataract, but lower rates of cataract surgery than other Australians.

‘And, despite having higher rates of heart disease, people in regional areas have lower rates of cardiac stress tests and imaging than people living in major cities.’

‘AHHA always seeks to improve equity in health and healthcare across Australia in the interests of the best health outcomes and affordable, quality healthcare.

‘The report highlights high rates of early planned caesarean section births, before 39 weeks gestation, without medical or obstetric indication.

‘There is emerging evidence that such births carry a short-term risk of respiratory problems and infection, and a long-term risk of developmental problems.

‘Between 42% and 60% of planned early births in Australia before 39 weeks’ gestation did not have a medical or obstetric indication. The rates were higher for privately funded patients compared with publicly-funded patients.

‘An area of particular concern is the reported wide variation in colonoscopy hospitalisation rates, with the rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples being 47% below the rate for other Australians despite a similar incidence of bowel cancer.

‘Indigenous Australians, however, have higher death rates from bowel cancer. This suggest that Indigenous Australians are missing out on appropriate care and need improved access to colonoscopies.’

‘Although findings like these are a major concern, they also point the way forward, and for that we thank the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare and their report partners, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, for the production of this Third Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation’, Dr Thurecht said.


The Atlas is available online here

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, and community and primary healthcare services.

Media enquiries:  

Dr Linc Thurecht, Senior Research Director, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association

0401 383 729