Choice in health ok—but not at any cost, and only if it leads to better outcomes

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

‘A number of the Productivity Commission’s health related recommendations would empower Australians to get the healthcare and health outcomes they want’, said Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) Acting Chief Executive Dr Linc Thurecht.

Commenting on the Productivity Commission’s report, Introducing Competition and Informed User Choice into Human Services, Dr Thurecht added, ‘They also align with the recommendations put forward in AHHA’s blueprint for outcomes-focused and value-based healthcare, Healthy people, healthy systems.

‘It’s now for Commonwealth, state and territory governments to act on a number of the Commission’s recommendations in order to transform our healthcare system into a fit-for-purpose 21st century system that would meet the needs and expectations of Australians.

‘Careful stewardship by government is required to ensure that greater competition and choice doesn’t result in increased costs, as seen when competition was introduced in markets such as energy and water, or greater difficulty accessing care, including longer waiting times if state governments are asked to remove measures such as requirements for patients to attend specific health services.

‘AHHA agrees there is a need to significantly expand community-based palliative care and improve end-of-life care in aged care facilities. End-of-life care should be core business for aged care facilities. Improved funding is needed for general practitioner and nurse practitioners to provide services in residential aged care, which includes 24 hour nurse staffing in residential aged care.

‘AHHA agrees advance care planning should be part of primary care—as part of the 75 plus health check Medicare item number and a new item number for practice nurses to facilitate advance care.

‘AHHA agrees governments should develop an evidence base to inform policy development including a national minimum data-set for end-of-life care as part of a broader national data strategy.

‘Patients should have greater choice over the provider they use when given a referral or diagnostic request, and AHHA agrees the Commonwealth should develop best-practice guidelines on how healthcare providers should support patient choice when making a referral or diagnostic request.

‘Public information is needed to support choice and encourage self-improvement by providers.

‘Patients should work with their healthcare providers to choose the appropriate evidence-based care for their condition, including non-surgical treatment if appropriate. Patients also need information on any potential out of pocket costs, expected wait times and clinical and patient reported outcomes.

‘AHHA agrees that all levels of government should strengthen and expand their commitment to public reporting to support patient choice and encourage performance improvement. Any healthcare providers that receive public funds for the provision of care should be required to provide performance and outcomes data—including private hospitals, general practitioners and specialists in a timely manner. This type of data provided to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare could transform both MyHospitals and MyHealthyCommunities or be used to develop a new platform to better support choice.

‘AHHA agrees if we want Australians to have the best possible health system then we need better data in order to make better decisions in healthcare.

‘AHHA agrees long-term reform is needed in public dentistry to introduce choice and a focus on health outcomes and value. This includes: comprehensive digital oral health records for public services; the development of costing standards and an efficient price for public dental services; and a new blended payment model for the Child Dental Benefit Schedule.’

For more information on the AHHA, visit

For Healthy people, healthy systems, visit

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 ThurechtActing Chief Executive, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, 0401 393 729