Public Health Reform: What does the future look like for patients?

Increased government stewardship and a stronger user orientation are two of the key elements shaping this process.

Public Health Reform

Vanessa Mellis

December 19, 2016 12:00 AM

Where can human services reform offer the greatest improvements in individual wellbeing?

Not an easy question to answer.

That’s why the Productivity Commission is doing so in stages, gathering feedback in an extensive consultation process which is about to enter its second stage.

Increased government stewardship and a stronger user orientation are two of the key elements shaping this process. The second stage of the inquiry is to make reform recommendations following the findings which appear in its recent publication: Introducing Competition and Informed User Choice into Human Services: Identifying Sectors for Reform, Study Report.

This publication assesses the following six services as best suited to reform:

- Social housing;
- Public hospital services;
- End-of-life care;
- Public dental services;
- Human services in remote Indigenous communities; and
- Commissioning family and community services.

In our recent article concerning the Commission’s earlier Preliminary Findings Report we considered the pressure on public hospitals and the importance of patient satisfaction and selection of appropriate performance data for publication. We also noted the Commission’s interest in ensuring that state and territory governments entertain contestability or outsourcing of public hospital services and develop more rigorous assessments as to whether the status quo provides value for money.

The Commission clearly feels well-designed reform, underpinned by strong government stewardship, could improve the quality of public hospital services and increase access to those services. The Study Report also demonstrates the Commission’s desire to give people greater transparency on available public hospital services and the providers. These are services for the public, shouldn’t they know more about who provides them?

The Commission makes it clear that high-quality data is central to improving the effectiveness of human services.

In terms of stewardship this will require government to:

- ensure public hospital services meet standards of quality, suitability and accessibility;
- give people the support they need to make choices;
- ensure that appropriate consumer safeguards are in place; and
- encourage and adopt ongoing improvements to service provision.

On the issue of data, the Commission considers that:

- user-oriented information allows consumers to make better choices and for providers to tailor their service offerings to better meet users' needs; and
- the transparent use of data drives improvements in the performance of the system and increases accountability to funders.

The potential to progressively augment the MyHospitals website to provide more information to consumers on the performance of hospitals and clinicians is mentioned in the Study Report[1]. It goes on to observe that this will require the support of government and healthcare providers.

A more complex undertaking is the shaping of demand management across the diverse supply of public and private hospital services within the broader health system. This is another area of focus for the Commission.

The work of the Commission continues to provide stakeholders with an opportunity to participate in the reform process. It has been an ongoing process. The recent roundtables concerning public hospital services involved the following participants:

- Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care
- Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association
- Australian Government Department of Health
- Australian Medical Association
- Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation
- Australian Private Hospitals Association
- Bupa
- Catholic Health Australia
- Consumers Health Forum
- Medibank Private
- National Rural Health Alliance
- NSW Ministry of Health
- NT Department of Health
- Private Healthcare Australia
- Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
- Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
- SA Health
- St Vincent’s Health
- Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services
- Victorian Department of Health and Human Services
- Woods, Prof. Mike; Centre for Health Economics Research and Evaluation, University of Technology Sydney

It doesn’t stop there. The Commission is inviting further participation by interested parties and will release an issues paper. The paper will outline areas where the Commission is seeking particular feedback and provide information to assist participants to prepare a submission to the inquiry.

The Commission will then use this feedback to prepare reform recommendations. The objective is to ensure that all Australians can access timely, affordable and high-quality services, appropriate to their needs, delivered in a cost-effective manner. This ambition is worthy and desirable. So what could the future look like? Embracing richer performance reporting, maintaining accessible information and strong linkages, and ensuring there is no “wrong door” so that patients can navigate the system seamlessly.

The final inquiry report is due to be submitted to the Australian Government in October 2017.

Related Articles

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Australia.

The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2023

Celebrating Lawyers From Around the World: Annabel West

by Rebecca Blackwell

We are honoring the achievements and career of Annabel West, lawyer and wife of South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas.

Accomplished Australian Lawyer Annabel West

Checks and Balances

by Michael Sullivan

Ensuring probity and above-board behaviour in both the public and private sector is always important—and that importance can be particularly stark during a major crisis like the pandemic. An overview of a year’s worth of commissions and inquiries.

Australian Commission Governance Structure

Blurred Lines

by Andrew Kirby

Where does responsible lending end and unconscionability begin? Australian courts have come to vastly different conclusions. An overview of current case law.

Australian Courts Assess Loan Repayment

The Partnership Opportunity

by David Harley, Shaun Whittaker, Tony Rutherford and Troy Lewis

Doing well and doing good need not be mutually exclusive. Housing developments that provide both solid long-term returns and positive social outcomes, often through public-private partnerships, are an idea whose time has come throughout Australia.

Housing Developments in Australia

A Climate Duty

by Lara Douvartzidis and Samantha Daly

Converging trends in Australia and the Netherlands: reasonable foreseeability in climate change law and other novel developments.

Climate Change Law in Australia

The Great Debate Between Agriculture, Mining and Environment

by Rebecca Hoare

Can we really have it all?  The pursuit of the harmonious intersection of Australia’s agricultural and resources industries and the environment.

Australia Agriculture, Mining & Environment

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in Australia

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms.

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in Australi

What Does It Take to Join The Best Lawyers in Australia?

by Best Lawyers

We asked The Best Lawyers in Australia: What advice would you give your younger self?

Nominate a Lawyer in Australia

Working With Changes

by Best Lawyers

Carolyn Pugsley, the Joint Global Head of Practice for Corporate, Australia at Herbert Smith and Freehills, discusses policy changes affecting the M&A market in Australia as well as the impact of the pandemic on the practice.

An Interview With Herbert Smith and Freehills

A Record Settlement

by Justin Smulison

Rouda, Feder, Tietjen & McGuinn

A Record Settlement

In the News: Texas 2019

by Best Lawyers

A roundup of relevant news from lawyers listed in Texas.

Legal News Roundup Texas

Can Your Option to Purchase Get Lost in a Franchise Agreement?

by Alicia Hill and Benjamin Caddaye

With the changing of a contract in a franchise agreement, certain rights you thought you were entitled to might get lost in translation.

Franchise Agreements and Purchase Options

Health Care Prime

by Andrew Kinworthy, Jonathan K. Henderson, Kevin McDonell and Robert A. Guy, Jr.

How will M&A shape the American health industry going forward? By adhering to the Amazon model.

Health Care on Demand

The Power of Two

by Dale Van Demark and Kerrin B. Slattery

More health care companies than ever see the value of robust partnerships in a constantly changing industry.

Health Care and the Private Sector

Insurance Coverage to Protect the Health Care Industry from the Increasing Risks Associated with the Internet of Things

by Meghan Magruder and Amy Dehnel

While this connectivity can provide great benefits to patients and physicians, the security issues inherent in these devices are critical.

Insurance for Health Care Industry

Trending Articles

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in America Honorees

by Best Lawyers

Only the top 5.3% of all practicing lawyers in the U.S. were selected by their peers for inclusion in the 29th edition of The Best Lawyers in America®.

Gold strings and dots connecting to form US map

Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2023

by Best Lawyers

The third edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America™ highlights the legal talent of lawyers who have been in practice less than 10 years.

Three arrows made of lines and dots on blue background

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers® in the United States

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 28th Edition of The Best Lawyers in America® and in the 2nd Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in America for 2022.

2022 Best Lawyers Listings for United States

Famous Songs Unprotected by Copyright Could Mean Royalties for Some

by Michael B. Fein

A guide to navigating copyright claims on famous songs.

Can I Sing "Happy Birthday" in Public?

Announcing the 2023 The Best Lawyers in Canada Honorees

by Best Lawyers

The Best Lawyers in Canada™ is entering its 17th edition for 2023. We highlight the elite lawyers awarded this year.

Red map of Canada with white lines and dots

Choosing a Title Company: What a Seller Should Expect

by Roy D. Oppenheim

When it comes to choosing a title company, how much power exactly does a seller have?

Choosing the Title Company As Seller

What the Courts Say About Recording in the Classroom

by Christina Henagen Peer and Peter Zawadski

Students and parents are increasingly asking to use audio devices to record what's being said in the classroom. But is it legal? A recent ruling offer gives the answer to a question confusing parents and administrators alike.

Is It Legal for Students to Record Teachers?

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers in Canada™

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers listed in the 16th Edition of The Best Lawyers in Canada™ and 1st Edition of Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch in Canada.

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers in Canada™

Caffeine Overload and DUI Tests

by Daniel Taylor

While it might come as a surprise, the over-consumption of caffeine could trigger a false positive on a breathalyzer test.

Can Caffeine Cause You to Fail DUI Test?

The Real Camille: An Interview with Johnny Depp’s Lawyer Camille Vasquez

by Rebecca Blackwell

Camille Vasquez, a young lawyer at Brown Rudnick, sat down with Best Lawyers CEO Phillip Greer to talk about her distinguished career, recently being named partner and what comes next for her.

Camille Vasquez in office

Announcing the 2022 "Best Law Firms" Rankings

by Best Lawyers

The 2022 “Best Law Firms” publication includes all “Law Firm of the Year” recipients, national and metro Tier 1 ranked firms and editorial from thought leaders in the legal industry.

The 2022 Best Law Firms Awards

Wage and Overtime Laws for Truck Drivers

by Greg Mansell

For truck drivers nationwide, underpayment and overtime violations are just the beginning of a long list of problems. Below we explore the wages you are entitled to but may not be receiving.

Truck Driver Wage and Overtime Laws in the US

All Eyes to the Ones on the Rise

by Rebecca Blackwell

Our 2023 honorees recognized in Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch™ in America tell us more about how their path to law formed, what lead them to their practice areas and how they keep steadfast in their passion to serve others.

Person walking between glass walls towards window

Announcing The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2023

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms from Australia.

The Best Lawyers in Australia™ 2023

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in Australia

by Best Lawyers

The results include an elite field of top lawyers and firms.

Announcing the 2022 Best Lawyers™ in Australi

The Key to Success? Be Prepared to Walk Away

by Sara Collin

Oatley Vigmond partner and The Best Lawyers in Canada awardee Brian M. Cameron discusses his illustrious career and techniques for trial and negotiation that have led to his success.

Man with grey hair and red tie