Evidence over anecdote needed in health
Reports that the Australian Bureau of Statistics is considering cutting its Patient Experience Survey should be of concern to everybody who wants health policy based on evidence rather than anecdote say Consumers Health Forum and Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).
The annual Patient Experience Survey collects data on access and barriers to a range of health care services across the system including primary care, hospitals, pathology and diagnostic imaging. It has been used by researchers, policymakers and health service providers to inform and track changes over time.
“It is an invaluable source of information about how people interact with the health system. At a time when the Government is initiating some major reforms to the health system and we are looking to move towards a consumer centred health care system it is imperative that we have a solid evidence base to work from. We need more information on people’s experience of the health system not less” Leanne Wells CEO of Consumers Health Forum said.
“Without this survey and the data it provides it will be difficult to gauge the impact of the reforms both now and into the future. Even if this is only seen as a short term measure with the intent to perhaps reinstate it in the future the value of the series will be significantly undermined. Reducing the frequency will also have a negative impact on its value particularly as we are in a fast moving environment of change in health service delivery.” said Ms Wells
AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven said, “It is a false economy to end such valuable data collections on patient experience and access to a range of healthcare services at a time of multiple reform processes across the health sector. Without reliable data we have no way of monitoring the impact of reform and could end up wasting limited financial resources along the way.”
“A lot of people are putting time and effort into redesigning the system, and they need to know that the changes are providing benefits to health consumers using of the system—this would be a short sighted move given the patient-centred focus of the current reform processes,” said Ms Verhoeven.
The Patient Experience Survey must continue if we are to design and build a 21st century health system in Australia that is sustainable and delivers the quality of care that Australians expect and deserve.
The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, community and primary healthcare services, and advocates for universal, high quality and affordable healthcare to benefit the whole community. See www.ahha.asn.au.
The Consumers Health Forum of Australia is the peak organisation providing leadership in representing the interests of Australian healthcare consumers. CHF works to achieve safe, good quality, timely healthcare for all Australians, supported by the best health information and systems the country can afford. See www.chf.org.au.