Health professions survey reveals gap between belief and practice in patient-centred care

Australian health workforce organisations recognise the importance of patient-centred care but acknowledge they do not have adequate resources and support to promote consumer-focused services, a Consumers Health Forum survey has found.

The survey found that more than 90 per cent of the workforce organisations which responded agreed that patient-centred health care benefited patients and the health system through better outcomes.

The Consumers Health Forum conducted the survey of 55 health organisations, which drew 20 responses, in order to gauge progress towards patient-centred practices in the wake of landmark health workforce reviews in 2005 and 2013.  The survey is published in the latest edition of CHF’s journal Health Voices, see 

“We are heartened that an overwhelming proportion of respondents strongly agreed with the benefits that can be gained from patient-centred care,” the CEO of the Consumers Health Forum, Leanne Wells, said. 

“In the 21st century consumers expect care that focuses on their individual needs.  Given the directions in modern health care towards consumer-directed care and self-management that is a reasonable expectation.  For health professionals, patient-centred care should be central to their practice and business model.   

“But there appears to be a gap between the good intentions and reality when it comes to ensuring organisational supports such as codes of conduct and arrangements to enable consumer engagement and representation on advisory boards. 

“We would expect that most professional organisations would be working to put in place policies, plans, standards, codes and continuing professional education that embed the axiom of patient-centred care. 

“The fact is that health practitioners who listen to and treat their patients as individuals with individual needs will achieve better outcomes for their patients and enjoy a more satisfying working life. 

“The patient-centred ethos is becoming ever more vital with the growth in prevalence of chronic disease, the increasing range of different health practitioners involved in coordinated team based care, and the need for organisational protocols that ensure each patient receives tailored attention rather than a a range of disconnected treatments from clinicians who are not coordinating care. 

“The Federal Government’s initial Health Care Home trials to develop effective primary care for chronic and complex conditions is encouraging even though we will need to see much greater resources and commitment to achieve full potential. 

“A central element to this promising primary care reform will be effective support for both a consumer role in the design and development of the right services as well as ensuring that quality self-management information and support such as web-enabled services and lifestyle coaches is offered as part of the mix. The survey report is published in full in on our website, and the lead author Rebecca Randall examines some implications in this Health Voices article.


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