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What patient-centric care means for Australians in 2018

As we kick-start the new year into enabling better healthcare, patient-centric care remains at the forefront of medical debate. In this article, we take a look about what patient-centric care means in 2018 and what Australian GPs can do to ensure optimal patient satisfaction.

Patient experience is at the heart of better healthcare

Heralded as one of the ‘central pillars of quality in healthcare,’ patient experience is found to be consistently and positively linked to patient safety and clinical effectiveness. Patient-centric care has been associated with a reduction in hospital admissions, curbing expenditure and alleviating pressure on an already burdened system. Importantly, patient-centric care can also say a lot about the state of our healthcare system.

Studies have shown that in the long run, delivering care that is centred around the patient makes good business senseimproving finances, quality, safety, satisfaction, and market share. Furthermore, the continuing uptake of cloud-based technologies provides the digital infrastructure needed to effectively coordinate patient-centric care.

More actions required in Australia to reach the model of patient-centricity

Despite the many benefits of enabling better patient-centric care, a recent review by the Productivity Commission has revealed that Australia has not moved sufficiently to a patient-centred model across key parts of our healthcare system.

On top of this, the need for a transition toward patient-centred healthcare has continued to dominate conversations in the media, with some suggesting our health policies and programs are to blame for Australia’s stagnant productivity growth.

What patient-centric care means for hospital admissions

Enabling better primary healthcare has the potential to reduce billions of dollars in expenditure currently injected into our hospital system. Keeping Australians out of hospital will also help to reduce hospital-acquired infections, currently sitting at 165,000 cases per year.

But in Australia, there is much more to be done at Practitioner-level to ease the burdens on hospitals. According to the ABS, 17% of people admitted to an emergency department thought care could have been provided by a GP.

The role of GPs under increased scrutiny

In recent times, the ways in which GPs deliver care has been under scrutiny, with many outside the industry airing frustrations about GPs being paid a “fee for service” not a “fee for outcome”.

Meanwhile according to the 2016-17 ABS patient experience survey, one in six people saw three or more health professionals for the same condition and 12% reported issues caused by a lack of communication between the health professionals. In addition, a recent study showed GPs are still unsure about the effectiveness of recent initiatives designed to facilitate coordinated care.

Making patient-centricity a reality in 2018

So, what can GPs do to help make patient-centricity in Australia more of a reality?  As a starting point, it’s essential we help inform and support solutions that make patient-centric care work a reality.

Practitioners need to appreciate that Australians are more informed about their health and the care options available to them than ever before. Rather than simply receiving care, patients feel increasingly empowered in their decision making and are more engaged with their treatment. This means GPs have the responsibility of assessing patients and coordinating more personalised care around their specific needs and values.

And as our population ages alongside the rise of chronic disease, GPs have an even more critical role in ensuring increased pressure on our healthcare system doesn’t jeopardise the quality of care in Australia.

Moving forward, we need to be investing more time to help patients change their behaviour in ways that prevent the onset of disease and illness, and healthcare models need to adapt to accommodate this. We should be consistently working with patients to develop personalised care plans that help them manage their own health in order to reduce the likelihood of hospital visits. By ensuring patient-centric remains a key focus, we can help to alleviate increasing demands on the system.

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