Health consumer choice drives better care
Giving people greater choice in human services including health would give consumers more control over their lives and generate incentives for providers to be more responsive to their needs, the Productivity Commission says in a new report on human services reforms.
“This report calls for more emphasis on the development of consumer-centred health care which we strongly support,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said.
“The report, Introducing Competition and Informed User Choice into Human Services. Reforms to Human Services, states that more patient choice would empower patients to choose options that better match their preferences.
“Patients should have greater choice over which healthcare provider they go to when given a referral or diagnostic request by their general practitioner. Public information is needed to support choice and encourage self-improvement by providers to be more responsive to consumer needs.
“These are developments the Consumers Health Forum has advocated for some time because we know giving consumers greater control over their health care is more likely to yield better outcomes than the old-style provider command and control of health care.
“End of life care is also a sphere which would benefit significantly from stronger consumer-centred approaches. As the report states, each year tens of thousands of people who are approaching the end of life are cared for and die in a place that does not fully reflect their choices or meet their needs.
“This unacceptable reality requires reforms to significantly expand community-based palliative care services and to improve the standard of end-of-life care in residential aged care facilities.
“Even better is the call to advance care directives planning and putting in place measures to promote them in primary care and aged care.
“We also support the commission’s proposals to drive more effective services in the neglected area of public dental health, such as targeting services on thosewith the most urgent oral health needs rather than basing timing of treatment on when somebody joins the waiting list.
“Greater competition has the potential to drive better, more responsive human services but such development must be subject to design and regulation which sets down rigorous standards to ensure quality, safety and equity.
“These and other proposal for change in the commission’s report have the potential to drive a more consumer-friendly and more cost-effective health system,” Ms Wells said.