Better health care helps fiscal health

The Treasurer’s recognition of the importance to the economy of integrated, patient-centred health care injects fresh impetus to drive effective health reforms, the Consumers Health Forum says.

“Australia can get much better value out of health spending by ensuring a patient-centred focus that stimulates more effective care and a more productive economy,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.

“Treasurer Morrison cites the highly valid points made in the Productivity Commission report about the fragmented health system and poor communication between different parts of the system.

“As he says this “veil of ignorance” where a doctor may not even be aware of significant health issues of their patient, can slow care, put the patient at risk and result in unnecessary procedures and costs.

“The Consumers Health Forum has argued for some years for reforms like the Health Care Homes now being trialed by the Government as a way of better incentivising and organising team-based care centred on the individual needs of patients, particularly those with chronic illness.

“But there needs to be more funding and stronger Federal and State leadership to make the most of our health system and overcome high levels of fragmentation and disconnected care people experience.

“We have high quality, well trained doctors and nurses but too often the system is geared to cater for providers of the system rather than patients, leading to inadequate care and/or expensive unjustified treatments.

“A dramatic indication of the benefits of reform and the scale of the current inadequacies is the Commission estimate that the economic benefits from a health system reboot could be worth up to $200 billion over the next 20 years.

“Health is an investment not a cost.  What we need to focus on is shifting our investment to preventative health and integrated primary health care services in the community.  It is about ‘different not necessarily more’, and spending wisely on the right mix of health services”.

“The evidence from around the world is that consumer involvement in health care decision-making delivers better services, better patient satisfaction and more cost-effective outcomes.

“If we are to deliver a patient-centred health system, it is more important than ever for there to be adequate Government investment in consumer leaders so they are equipped to have a strategic and systemic role in shaping policy and services in an effective and meaningful way.

“The Consumers Health Forum is keen to play its part.  We shared our ideas for a national health plan at a Ministerial Consumer and Community Roundtable in August.  See

“Our forward plans include working with Primary Health Networks to assist them to involve consumers in their planning and investment choices, partnering with the researchers to shape consumer and community relevant health and medical research priorities and working collaboratively with professional associations to promote multidisciplinary, consumer-centred care practices” Ms Wells said.


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Mark Metherell
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