CHF has consistently called for improved information provision to consumers as way of ensuring they understand their private health insurance policies and can make informed decisions. We regard the ACCC’s continued interest in this issue and the fact that the last two reports have been focused on information provision as critically important, and welcome the opportunity to contribute to the latest ACCC report to the Senate on Private Health Insurance.
Presentation to the Inaugural Symposium of the NHMRC Partnership Centre for Health System Sustainability
As a foundation partner and system lead investigator for the NHMRC Partnership Centre for Health System Sustainability, CEO Leanne Wells presented at the inaugural symposium. Involving consumers in research has a number of important issues to consider.
We welcome this legislation coming forward as we believe many of the reforms covered by the review are overdue. This Bill set the groundwork for us to modernise the way we regulate medicines and medical devices and ensure that consumers can have the confidence to use them.
Whilst we do provide some comments on the key issues covered in the legislation we think it is important that they are looked at as a package. In particular we draw the Committee’s attention to the reforms to strengthen post-marketing activity which were a key theme in our Submission to the initial review. The move to improve adverse event reporting and have more post market monitoring and surveillance is critical to ensuring the integrity of the system. The reforms to this component of the regulators work cannot be overemphasised from a consumer confidence perspective and without this many of the other proposed reforms would not be acceptable.
Policy Webinar #2 - Current Areas of Australian Health Reform
Slides from our second Policy Webinar for 2017. This webinar was presented with Frank Quinlan from Mental Health Australia and Alexis Mohay from the National Rural Health Alliance. The full webinar can be viewed here: https://youtu.be/T5DO5ufXPhA
Policy Webinar #1 - Overview of the Australian Health System
Slides from a one hour webinar that gave a system level overview of the Australian health system. The webinar can be watched in full here: https://youtu.be/T5DO5ufXPhA
Welcome back to another year. Already much has been happening, with much more on the agenda for the year.
We have a new Health Minister in Greg Hunt. In a welcome move, he reached out to CHF very early in his tenure to touch base. We discussed CHF’s ideas for a better health system in detail. This week CHF Chair, Tony Lawson and I had a lengthy face-to-face meeting with Minister Hunt about his vision for a national health plan and preventative health. We advocated that these undertakings need to be informed by consumer and community aspirations and expectations of our health system. The Minister agreed to work with us on a Consumer Roundtable to provide the opportunity to bring together key consumer groups and advocates to ensure that the national health plan is shaped from a consumer and community perspective.
Our priorities for 2017 focus on the “5 P’s”; Primary Health Care, Private Health Insurance, Pharmacy, Prevention, and Patient Safety and Participation. Our Submission to the Federal Treasurer for Federal Budget 2017-18, ‘Consumer Focussed Commitments’, goes into what we want to see in these priority areas in more detail. Our core request beyond adequate financial resourcing for the health system is for COAG to develop a true forward looking strategy that builds a national vision for our health system.
Our first major campaign for the year has launched, asking consumers to check and make sure their private health insurance is in fact, ‘Healthy Cover’. The response so far has been heartening, with coverage in the Guardian and a decent number of responses to the survey. We ask that those who choose to hold private health insurance take the time to go through the checklist and survey. A very big thank you to everyone who has already helped spread the word about Healthy Cover. The more voices we can gather, the better we can make our combined voice heard.
I’d like to close on a sad note. Sally Crossing was an incredible woman and absolutely pivotal in the growth of health consumers in Australia. Her grace, courage and empathy touched thousands, and her legacy will continue to touch many more. Read our commemorative statement about Sally here.
Chief Executive Officer
Consumers Health Forum
Submission to the draft Australian code for the responsible conduct of research
The Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) is the national peak body representing the interests of Australian healthcare consumers and those with an interest in health consumer affairs. CHF works to achieve safe, quality, timely and affordable healthcare for all Australians, supported by accessible health information and systems. We welcome the opportunity to provide feedback on the revised draft of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research as part of our ongoing relationship with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
CHF is concerned about the lack of direct reference to consumers being involved in research.
CHF and NHMRC partnered in 2002 and 2016 to develop the joint Statement on Consumer and Community Involvement in Health and Medical Research. The vision of the statement is:
Consumers, community members, researchers and research organisations working in partnerships, to improve the health and well-being of all Australians through health and medical research.
As stated in the foreword of the joint statement, the importance of consumer and community involvement in research has become widely recognised. The NHMRC has embraced the 2002 statement through the requirement of applicants to the Centres of Research Excellence scheme to demonstrate extensive involvement by research end-users and the community, and the Partnerships for Better Health initiative. Both organisations are committed to the vision expressed in the statement and will work together to promote its implementation across the sector.
Page 2 of the statement explicitly mentions the 2007 version of the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. The code is quoted:
Appropriate consumer involvement in research should be encouraged and facilitated by research institutions and researchers.
This statement does not appear in the current draft of the Code. The closest mention is principle P5, which states:
Respect for research participants, the wider community, animals and the environment.
This limits community involvement to research participants and ignores the broader role of consumers in the planning and design of research and as part of the research team. We view this as a significant watering down of the role of consumers in research.
No explicit mention of end users, consumers, the community or any other related group are mentioned in the responsibilities listed. We feel that these omissions are significant.
The 2016 statement was released in September 2016, just prior to the release of the consultation draft of the code. We recognise that these overlapping time frames may have precluded the integration of the two documents. However, we feel that this omission is a significant one which needs to be addressed before the new code is finalised.
We suggest that a new principle is developed either using the wording directly from the previous version of the code or similar wording.
We would be happy to collaborate with the NHRMC to develop appropriate wording.
Submission to the Digital Health Agency Discussion Paper
This is a brief initial submission in response to the discussion paper released by the Agency in November 2016. We look forward to working with the Agency to involve consumers more and to progress and resolve the issues raised in this submission and by other consumers through the consultation process, such as through the focus groups we partnered with you to deliver in late January 2017.
We support the development of a digital health strategy for the entire health sector, one which is led by consumers but is executed by the entire health system. A comprehensive digital health strategy should provide a set of tools for consumers, clinicians and health service providers to work in partnership to have consumer –centred care. Central to this is empowering consumers to have more options for taking more responsibility for their own health.
The overall objective for the national digital health strategy should be framed simply and strategically, for example, “connected care, connected system”. A successful, forward-looking strategy needs to include several components including information, data and knowledge management; a prevention and patient self-management focus; measures and infrastructure to promote a better connected system and experience of care such as shared electronic records and secure messaging; and support for innovations in the delivery of clinical care and increasingly personalised medicine. In particular the strategy should prioritise:
- the roll out of a fully functioning comprehensive electronic health record with robust privacy controls .
- creating an environment for the development of and implementation of accredited on- line self-management tools and apps for smart phones and other smart devices across a range of conditions and needs;
- more widespread use of telehealth and telemedicine and related to this tools for remote monitoring for carers ; and
- training and education for consumers and health professional in how to use the tools and incentives put in place to encourage their adoption.
The strategy needs to address all these issues in a co-ordinated way. Whilst the electronic health record, My Health Record, is often seen as the most important part of the strategy, and for some consumers digital health is simply the record, there is no reason why the other parts of the strategy could not be pursued concurrently.
2016 draws to a close after a productive year for CHF and the wider healthcare consumer sector.
Submission to the Federal Treasurer for Federal Budget 2017-18
Consumer focused commitments for a 21st century consumer centred healthcare system
Adequate and equitable resourcing of our health system is essential to allow access to healthcare when and where consumers need it. Evidence-based and well-resourced health systems improve national productivity, are more cost-effective and equitable. Over time, moving to models of care which promote services being integrated will benefit consumers. Integrated care which puts the needs of people and communities, not diseases, at the centre of health systems and empowers consumers to take charge of their own health facilitates the adequate and equitable use of resources. This can be achieved through involving consumers in design as they can accelerate improvement and spur practical and local health and social care solutions. Examples of how this can be done already exist such as the work to produce the National Medicines Policy which recognises the fundamental role consumers have in reaching the objectives of quality care, better value for taxpayers and universal access to basic health services.
As the peak national body for consumer’s involvement in health CHF supports the development of an efficient, inclusive and accessible health system. We call on the Federal Government to take action in two key ways: to develop a national vision for our health system and to adequately resource it.