Report shows importance of primary care in preventing hospitalisations

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) has welcomed today’s release of the National Health Performance Authority’s (NHPA’s) report into preventable hospitalisations.

“The NHPA’s report Healthy Communities: Potentially preventable hospitalisations in 2013–14 identifies opportunities to improve our health system and to provide better health care for many Australians whose hospitalisations might be avoided,” AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven said.

The report found that in 2013-14, there were 600,267 hospitalisations across Australia for the 22 conditions that are considered potentially preventable. This comprised six percent of the 9.7 million total hospitalisations in the same period.

“These figures show both the importance of primary care in easing the burden on our hospital system, and the opportunity for Primary Health Networks to identify and respond to regional need by commissioning well-targeted health services,” Ms Verhoeven said.

“The report shows that older people, people from regional and remote areas, and people of lower socioeconomic status undergo more potentially preventable hospitalisations than others.

“In particular, the regional variations reported provide some guidance as to where better care coordination and more targeted primary care resources might lead to improved patient care and more efficient use of hospital services.”

Patients suffering from five conditions formed the majority of potentially preventable admissions, the report found. Almost half (47 percent) of potentially preventable hospitalisations and almost two-thirds (62 percent) of bed days in 2013-14 were caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes complications, heart failure, cellulitis, and kidney and urinary tract infections.

“Better care coordination at a regional level, supported by appropriate funding mechanisms and greater patient engagement, could assist in managing chronic conditions such as heart failure and diabetes, and lowering the rate of potentially preventable hospitalisations in Australia,” Ms Verhoeven said.

The AHHA commends this report to policymakers, especially in the current context of the discussions related to health funding and tax reform.

“As Governments engage in discussion about raising more revenue through the GST or Medicare Levy, this report serves as a reminder there are improvements that can be made in the health system that would result in savings. The Commonwealth and the states and territories must work actively together to ensure funds are targeted at areas of demonstrated need in the health system,” Ms Verhoeven said.

Media enquiries:

Alison Verhoeven

Chief Executive, The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association

0403 282 501