Beyond the symptoms: Let's talk about consent

Beyond the symptoms is a regular opinion piece from CHF CEO Dr Elizabeth Deveny who provides a unique perspective on current and emerging health policy issues that affect consumers.

Her thought-provoking reflections challenge traditional views on consumer-informed policy and offer innovative thought leadership to enhance health equity, honouring consumer’s rights to make informed health decisions, and highlighting the necessity for health decision-makers to partner with consumers and communities.


Both professionally and personally I've grappled with the daunting task of understanding specialized surgeries, not only the medical aspects but the financial impact as well. In deciding the best course of action, consumers must decipher an array of choices shaped by the structure of our healthcare system. For me, these choices came with their own sets of risks, costs, waiting times, potential outcomes, and long-term consequences, affecting personal, social, and professional life.

The often overlooked 'fine print' adds another layer of complexity. This includes what constitutes best practice care, the approval process for treatments, the roles of healthcare providers, and the significant impact of commercial determinants such as insurance models, pharmaceutical marketing, and medical device suppliers. These factors subtly influence the information that is available, and so our decisions.

In the public health system, we might assume commercial influences are minimal—perhaps naively so. In private healthcare, where profit is undeniably a driving factor, it doesn't necessarily mean that patient care is compromised. However, the reality is that private services are often funded by private health insurance, accident compensation or workplace insurance schemes - evidence that healthcare is very much a business.

As many people face significant out of pocket costs, often funded by accessing their own personal savings or superannuation, this commercialization of healthcare raises questions about whether these models always adhere to best practices, support patient choice, and ensure informed consent both medical and financial. I start with the assumption that all healthcare models and clinicians adhere to these principles. However, commercial influences can sometimes alter these practices. It’s essential for me to have transparency so I can easily detect where commercial interests are at play. This empowers me to always make decisions that best serve my interests, ensuring I am an informed and wise user of health services, with no surprises. Do you share my view?

Navigating Australia’s healthcare system, with its intricate intersection of private and public sectors, often feels like solving a cryptic crossword without all of the clues! That's why it's crucial for Australians to have a clear understanding of how the system works and what to watch out for. In an ideal world, every patient would have a healthcare blueprint—a clear plan highlighting all possible options and what each entails.

At CHF, we are dedicated to helping Australians feel empowered and informed as they make healthcare decisions. It's essential that all health consumers have a clear voice in a system that respects and upholds their right to understand every aspect of their care. Join us in advocating for a system where transparency, clarity, and simplicity are at the forefront, making informed consent the cornerstone of every patient interaction.

You can follow Dr Elizabeth Deveny on LinkedIn