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Quality and safety of medical care

Quality and safety of medical care

The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has stated that quality is “doing the right thing for the right person at the right time and having the best result.” The World Health Organization defines patient safety as “the prevention of errors and ill effects to patients associated with health care” in a nutshell.

All patients, their families, and caregivers place the utmost value on the safety and caliber of the care offered in Australia’s healthcare system. A secure and effective healthcare system offers the best possible care at the most reasonable cost while protecting patients from avoidable risks.

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Definitions

Safety: the prevention or limitation of actual or potential harm from health care management or the environment where health care is provided to acceptable levels (NHIPPC 2017).

Quality: the extent to which health treatments are compatible with professional knowledge, increase the chance of desired health outcomes, and are provided to individuals and populations (ACSQHC 2019).

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Increasing quality and safety

As compared to other nations’ health systems, Australia’s is generally secure and effective, yet it still has some ongoing issues. Australia usually outperformed other OECD countries across most measures, according to data compiled by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) across a variety of health care quality and outcome indicator sectors, but there were some areas for improvement (AIHW 2022).

Australia has numerous regulatory frameworks, professional associations, and agencies that aim to ensure the safety and quality of healthcare. Government initiatives frequently center on this issue. As an illustration, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) gives direction to enhance the safety and quality of healthcare at the national level.

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Reporting on performance and safety

The AIHW‘s primary responsibility is to report a wide range of data on the various aspects of our health system’s performance. By keeping an eye on the health system’s performance, governments, service providers, and the general public can learn more about the system’s effectiveness, efficiency, and appropriateness as well as whether or not it is producing positive results for patients and the larger community.

Resources, information, and statistics made available by the AIHW include:

  • Australia’s health – The biennial report on Australians’ health from the AIHW
  • a central location for information about Australia’s health performance on a national scale
  • maintaining a set of health system metrics based on the Australian Health Performance Framework that are accepted nationally
  • the MyHospitals webpages, which provide comprehensive details on the traits and functionality of the hospital system at the federal, state, and municipal levels.

Many particular indicators of hospital performance include:

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  • “Golden staph” Staphylococcus aureus bloodstream illnesses
  • Observing hand hygiene rules
  • sudden readmissions
  • complications acquired in hospitals.

As a gauge of the availability and efficacy of primary and community healthcare services, data are also available for hospitalizations that may have been avoided.

COVID-19’s effects on the health system

A significant amount of the data that is available to the AIHW can also be used to investigate the effects of COVID-19 on specific areas of the health system, which is important for determining how well the system is performing overall.

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  • Some of these implications are immediate, such how hospitals handle the increased caseload of patients with COVID-19 diagnoses or the decreases in the number of elective surgeries performed that have occasionally been necessary to manage the resources available in the healthcare system.
  • In other instances, the effects are indirect. For instance, the introduction of telehealth systems for some medical consultations enabled continuity of care for many patients and resulted in a decrease in injury presentations to emergency rooms associated with public health orders that restricted activities.

For further details, refer to “Chapter 2 Changes in Australians’ Health Over the COVID-19 Period” in Australia’s Health 2022: Data Insights or click on the links below.

Experiences of patients

Patients’ input on their experiences and outcomes with a variety of healthcare professionals serves as another source of crucial data on the effectiveness of the healthcare system. For instance, the ACSQHC’s standards for health service accreditation have long included the requirement that health services routinely poll their patients to learn about their experiences as patients and how they feel about the care they received.

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The Patient Experience Survey (PEx), which covers a variety of components of the health system, including hospitals and dentistry professionals, is also conducted annually by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Most persons in 2020–21 expressed satisfaction with the health care they received from their medical professionals. For instance:

  • More than 75% of those who saw a general practitioner (GP) believed their GP always paid attention to what they had to say, 83.5% believed their GP always treated them with respect, and 78% believed their GP always spent adequate time with them.
  • In terms of medical professionals, 81% believed that their doctors always paid attention to what they had to say, 85% thought their doctors always treated them with respect, and 82% thought their doctors always spent adequate time with them.

The 2020-21 PEx also asked about patients’ experiences using telehealth services in light of the expansion of their accessibility as a measure to stop the spread of the COVID-19 illness. 84% of people who had a telemedicine consultation with a general practitioner or medical specialist said that their telehealth practitioners always listened intently, 87% said that they always showed respect, and 83% said that they always spent adequate time with them.

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Via its Your Experience of Service (YES) survey, the AIHW also provides information on patients’ experiences with certain mental health treatments. Visit Mental health services in Australia to learn about patient experiences with mental health care.

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