Transparency and conduct a key challenge for Australian healthcare sector

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Transparency and conduct a key challenge for Australian healthcare sector

19 February 2019: A new global healthcare report looking at the current state of the global healthcare sector explores key emerging trends and issues impacting our sector.

According to the 2019 Global health care outlook: Shaping the future report, global health care spending is projected to increase at an annual rate of 5.4 percent in 2018-2022, a considerable rise from 2.9 percent in 2013-2017. Ageing and growing populations, greater prevalence of chronic diseases, and exponential advances in innovative, but costly, digital technologies continue to grow health care demand and expenditures.

Health care stakeholders — providers, governments, payers, consumers, and other organisations —struggling to manage clinical, operational, and financial challenges envision a future in which new business and care delivery models, aided by digital technologies, may help solve today’s problems and build a sustainable foundation for affordable, accessible, high-quality health care.

“Making this vision a reality will require a philosophical shift in focus away from a system of sick care, in which we treat patients after they fall ill, to one of health care, which supports wellbeing, prevention and early intervention,” says Dr Stephanie Allen, Deloitte Global Healthcare leader.

“To make this shift, today’s health care system will need to partner with other traditional sectors such as employment, housing, education, and transportation to address the social determinants of health, and with new sectors such as retail, banking, and technology to improve data and platform interoperability.”

As Allen points out in the Australian summary of the global report, there is little doubt Australia has one of the best healthcare systems in the world based on cost, access, and quality. However, like many countries, it also faces the immediate challenge of an ageing population, rising chronic diseases, and an ever-increasing demand for new treatments and more hospital beds.

One challenge unique to Australia in light of the series of reviews currently being undertaken by a number of Royal Commissions is transparency and conduct.

“I would expect that greater transparency of costs and appropriate conduct will become a regulatory feature for our aged care, private health insurance and private hospital providers,” says Allen.

“For instance, the Private Health Insurance Amendment Rules 2018 included age-based premium discounts for hospital cover, added second-tier default benefits arrangements for hospitals, and introduced product tiers and clinical categories for hospital cover. These steps will go a long way to improving transparency across the Private Health Insurance sector and making private health insurance a simpler and fairer system for consumers.”

Australia also faces the issue of creating financial sustainability in an uncertain health economy with scale and distance continuing to be a challenge as it attempts to move care outside of the expensive hospital setting.

“Successful ambulatory and ‘Hospital In The Home’ (HITH) programs need to match the range of services, response times, and outcomes of care delivered on-site. This can more easily be achieved at scale, but our dispersed population and concentrated workforce make HITH programs more challenging,” notes Allen.

“Virtual healthcare may offer a more promising future in Australia but this will require payment reform to adopt at scale. Global evidence shows that investments in virtual health and telehealth can expand services while helping hospitals to decrease costs and maintain high quality care.”

Consistent with their experiences in other industries, informed and empowered consumers will expect Australia’s healthcare system to adapt to changing consumer needs, demands, and expectations.

“Healthcare solutions need to be coordinated, convenient, customised, and accessible – and My Health Record goes some way to providing the platform to achieve this,” says Allen.

However, Allen points out that integrating health and other lifestyle data and providing this in real-time for consumers to act upon is where the future is heading, but this will require further exploration of open data, cyber security, and privacy.

To explore the other trends and issues in more detail, download the full global report here.

Media Contact:

Tanya Jayasuriya
Corporate Affairs & Communications
M: +61 422 155 002
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