In the lead up to the Federal Election, AHCRA will be releasing a series of media statement on key health issues and lobbying all major parties to commit to health policies that will deliver a better and fairer health system.
In particular, AHCRA will be focussing on increasing the focus on prevention, consumer participation and action to meet the needs of some identified vulnerable population groups, including people with intellectual disabilities. We will highlight the drawbacks of the fee-for-service model, including reducing equity and constraining innovation AHCRA will also focus on other issues which have not been adequately addressed in the reform process, including the mal-distribution of services and professionals, out-of-pocket expenses for consumers and workforce reform.
AHCRA has five key priorities for reform over the next four years. These are as follows:
- Consumer/citizen centred system
- Continue closing the Gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians
- Building primary health care and prevention as the core of the health system
- More effective prevention of ill-health and promotion of well-being by consideration of the social determinants of health
- Creation of a Health Care Waste Commission
Consumer/citizen centred system top
The current health system has been designed and developed around professionals’ needs, not those of consumers. Re-orienting the health system to reflect the needs and priorities of the community will result in a more efficient health system which delivers better health outcomes for all.
This should include strengthening the requirements for health services to involve consumers in decision-making and move towards more consumer-centred care; funding research which develops the notion of consumer-centred care and more effective consumer participation; developing mechanisms for stronger citizen engagement in discussing/guiding health system of the future (before health budget grows out of control); and increasing the community’s health literacy, and especially that of more disadvantaged populations.
Continue Closing the Gap top
Indigenous health is the number one health issue facing Australia and continued investment in this must continue.
Building primary health care and prevention as the core of the health system top
AHCRA believes that future health care will need to be much more heavily focussed on prevention and early intervention in order to remain sustainable.
The cost of health care, especially acute health care, is rising at well over the inflation rate annually. Within 20 years, this will make the States’ and Federal Governments’ health budgets unaffordable. The key solution AHCRA believes is for us to become much better at preventing ill-health and promoting wellness, identifying and treating it early, and managing ongoing conditions in the community. These are much cheaper options than allowing conditions to develop and providing increasing numbers of episodes of hospital care.
More effective prevention of ill-health and promotion of well-being by consideration of the social determinants of health top
Addressing the social, environmental and ecological underlying factors that research shows are highly associated with higher rates of ill-health is essential in order to address increasing health care costs. This requires shaping the broader economic, social and environmental decisions so that Australians’ health overall is enhanced, not damaged. Useful first steps would include establishing a Productivity Commission Inquiry into the social determinants of health to clarify the economic benefits of specific actions and the costs of non-action; funding the Australian National Preventive Health Agency (ANPHA) to address social determinants of health; and establishing a Federal Government Advisory Committee and Secretariat to develop the case for ‘Health Equity in All’ approach to government business, building on the South Australian experience.
Creation of a Health Care Waste Commission top
A national Health Care Waste Commission would identify areas of ineffective health spending so that funding or health professional time could be redirected to better effect. This waste may arise from a range of sources, including failures of care delivery; failures of care coordination; overtreatment; administrative complexity; pricing failures; and fraud and abuse. There has been considerable research in this area in Australia and some of this work is already underway, e.g. around evidence based practice via NHMRC, but is not coordinated and fed into policy making to ensure findings are incorporated into mechanisms that drive funding and professional and service behavior. A Commission could be mandated to ensure this occurs.