Improving healthcare through transparency | KPMG | AU

Improving Australia’s healthcare system through transparency

Improving healthcare through transparency

Australia’s health system is more transparent than most – but more needs to be done to turn this into meaningful information for patients and users.

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Doctor with face mask holding a stethoscope

Transparency: a force for good…and for ill

KPMG’s global study ‘Through the looking glass: A practical path to improving healthcare through transparency’ found plenty of good examples of transparency in practice, with evidence that public reporting stimulates quality improvement activities, especially at the hospital level. Publishing performance data, however, produces mixed results, in some cases leading to improved health outcomes, and in other instances resulting in negligible or potentially worse outcomes. The practice of ‘naming-and-shaming’ is particularly contentious, with many practitioners concerned that it is demotivating and divisive.

“By being open about performance – whether clinical outcomes, financial performance, long-term treatment trends or other information that is pertinent to decision-making – patients can make more informed choices about their care, and health systems can learn valuable lessons about the efficacy and sustainability of services”.

Dan Harradine
Healthcare Partner, KPMG Australia


“By being open about performance – whether clinical outcomes, financial performance, long-term treatment trends or other information that is pertinent to decision-making – patients can make more informed choices about their care, and health systems can learn valuable lessons about the efficacy and sustainability of services”.

Dan Harradine
Healthcare Partner, KPMG Australia

Australia – Second tier for transparency

The study places Australia in the second tier of transparency of health systems, alongside the UK and New Zealand, but behind the Scandinavian countries, based on a framework covering six areas: quality of healthcare; patient experience; finance; governance; personal healthcare data and communication of healthcare data.

Explore the data using our interactive Global Healthcare Systems Transparency Index and see how Australia stacks up.

Highlights

  • Decision making about health services is done in a very transparent way, with mandatory opportunities for citizen input.
  • One of only three countries which routinely discloses gifts and payments made to healthcare staff.
  • Significant improvements could be made to the 'Quality of Healthcare' score if risk-adjusted mortality/survival rates, re-admission rates, adverse events, and hospital-acquired infections were publicly reported.
  • Further progress could be made by publishing more data in open formats.

On finance, Australia shares top ranking with other countries. In relation to ‘Governance’, Australia is one of only a small minority of countries to score a bonus point for routinely publishing health service procurement prices and contracts as well as information about health service procurement processes.

In relation to ‘Personal Healthcare Data’, it is encouraging to note that patient data privacy and safeguarding is a legal obligation in the country, and that the MyHealth Record is driving outcomes in the right direction for patients to be able to access their own information in a way that outperforms many other international jurisdictions.

However, there are still areas where significant improvements in Australia can be made – for example, in relation to transparency of ‘Quality of Healthcare’ through more standardised public reporting of risk-adjusted mortality/survival rates, re-admission rates, adverse events, and hospital-acquired infections. But encouragingly, average waiting times for emergency care are published by hospital providers.

Similarly, there is room for improvement on transparency of ‘Patient Experience’ with a particular need for measurement and publication of patient reported outcomes and patient approval ratings.

Overall, Australia stacks up well but more needs to be done to pursue high ratings for transparency and improve performance across the entire health system.

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