Patient report awards GPs high marks

Matt Woodley

29/03/2021 4:38:43 PM

Australians’ experiences with the healthcare system remain overwhelmingly positive, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Survey being filled in.
Quality of care was the highest determining factor when it came to whether or not a patient would recommend their GP to a friend or colleague.

A new survey aimed at documenting patient perspectives and experiences has delivered a ringing endorsement of Australia’s healthcare system, with nearly two-thirds of respondents (65.5%) rating it a score of eight or above out of 10.
The Australian Healthcare Index, commissioned by the Australian Patients Association (APA), sought feedback from 8000 participants on a raft of areas in the healthcare system, primary care, private health insurance, emergency departments, elective surgery, prescription medicine and more.
More than 61% of respondents were classified as ‘promoters’ for their GPs, based on a part of the survey which asked patients to rate on a scale of 1–10 how likely they were to recommend their GP to a friend or colleague.
‘Promoters’ provided a rating of 8–9 out of 10, while a further 27.1% responded with a score of 6–8. Only 11.8% of ‘detractors’ submitted a score of six or below.
According to the report, quality of care was the primary reason driving the score for GPs, followed by access to appointments and then cost.
‘Quality of care was 1.7 times higher for promoters than detractors, which isn’t surprising,’ the report states.
‘Cost concerns were over two times higher for detractors and passives compared to promoters, which is interesting considering there is access to bulk billed care.
‘The report did not look at patients attending private vs bulk-bill practices, but that is a future consideration. Within the open-ended responses, a common theme that arose was the importance of the doctor’s care style and personal approach.’
Other key findings from the report include: 

  • patients rated Australian healthcare overall as 7.8 out of 10
  • patients are more likely to recommend their GPs than their dentist to friends and colleagues
  • while 55.1% of respondents have private health insurance, the majority are not recommending it to friends and family, and many feel it costs too much
  • more than 36% of patients think prescription medicine is too expensive
  • nearly 95% have embraced the growing intersection between healthcare and technology, with the use of and interest in telehealth, health apps, online booking, electronic prescriptions and more increasing
  • only 6.4% of people had no visits to GPs or other healthcare providers in the six months prior to taking the November survey, whereas 48.6% had four or more healthcare-related appointments.
Stephen Mason, CEO of the APA, said he hopes the report will help strengthen patient-centred care in the healthcare system.
‘As we advocate for improved patient care and health outcomes, the Australian Healthcare Index is an important pulse check on the patient experience for organisations like ours, as well as the greater healthcare community, peak bodies and government at all levels, who are contributing to and leading public and private healthcare in Australia,’ he said.
However, Mr Mason also highlighted areas for improvement based on the report’s findings.
‘Although we are comforted by the knowledge that our healthcare system has coped well during the pandemic, we are concerned about dental care and the cost of medicines,’ he said.
‘As for the perceived lack of value from private health insurance, we are working closely with Private Healthcare Australia and its members to address this concern and in particular to prevent excessive out-of-pocket costs.’
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