Productivity Commission report reinforces that health is wealth—and it’s time for change

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

‘Individual health leads to national wealth, and it’s great to see that the Productivity Commission has recognised this in its Shifting the dial: 5 year productivity review report released today’, says Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).

‘It’s also gratifying that the report recommends shifting the focus of our health system from providers to patients.

‘AHHA has been advocating for some years now for better patient-centred and integrated care, with attached funding and care pathways, and information flows.

‘We have also been advocating for health funding mechanisms based on value and outcomes, rather than on service volumes—which the Commission is also recommending.

‘We also support the Commission’s call for better integration of primary care and hospital care at a local level, with a view to boosting preventative measures and minimising unnecessary hospital admissions.

‘We think it is incumbent on the Commonwealth to use the recommendations in this report as a starting point for negotiating its post-2020 public hospital funding agreement with the states and territories.

‘This could also be a good opportunity for the Commonwealth and the states and territories to work in partnership to deliver a unified primary healthcare and hospital system focused on people receiving the care they need and want, at the right time in the right place by the right provider.

‘Integrating local services provided and coordinated by Primary Health Networks (Commonwealth-funded) and local hospital networks or health districts (state-funded) will go a long way towards reducing avoidable public hospital emergency services.

‘The right governance models will need to be in place to make this happen. We suggest an independent national health authority, guided by a Board with multi-jurisdictional and professional representation.

‘This would be distinct from Commonwealth and state and territory departments of health. In addition to primary and hospital care coordination and integration functions, it could could pull together the functions of the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority, the National Health Funding Pool and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare.

‘Finally we support the Commission in its call for better patient-focused data in order to measure value and outcomes in healthcare’, Ms Verhoeven said.

‘There are nationally consistent data standards and data collection items for public hospital services. But there are no such provisions in primary healthcare. With governments funding most primary healthcare and hospital services in this country, it is not unreasonable to ask all stakeholders, including GPs and allied health providers, to work towards a national and secure information and medical records system that operates across primary healthcare, and public and private hospitals.

‘Healthcare is vital to our future prosperity. And, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Healthcare and Social Assistance is our largest and fastest-growing industry employer. Now is the time to make the changes needed to improve our health, and consequently our national wealth.’

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


Media enquiries: Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association, 0403 282 501