This publication presents information from the 2015-16 Patient Experience Survey, which is the seventh in the series. Where possible, time series results comparing data from previous years to the 2015-16 cycle have been made available.
The ABS Patient Experience Survey is conducted annually and collects data on access and barriers to a range of health care services, including:
- general practitioners (GPs)
- medical specialists
- dental professionals
- imaging and pathology tests
- hospital admissions
- emergency department visits (ED)
It includes data from people that accessed health services in the previous 12 months, as well as from those who did not, and enables analysis of health service information in relation to particular population groups. Data are also collected on aspects of communication between patients and health professionals.
Data on patient experience is of value to both users of health services and those aiming to improve the health system. High quality health care leads to better health outcomes, and barriers to accessing health services may impede the best possible outcome. The availability of GPs, impact of varying levels of service and the coordination of health care are all important factors in ensuring an accessible, high quality health care system for all Australians.
At the national level, the results showed that in 2015-16:
After hours GP care:
- 82% of people saw a GP in the previous 12 months. Females were more likely than males to see a GP (88% compared with 76%).
- 19% of people who saw a GP waited longer than they felt acceptable to get an appointment with a GP. This has decreased since 2014-15 (21%) and 2013-14 (23%).
- The proportion of people in outer regional, remote and very remote areas who reported waiting longer than they felt acceptable for a GP appointment has decreased by 9 percentage points between 2013-14 (29%) and 2015-16 (20%).
- 10% of people living in areas of greatest disadvantage delayed or decided against filling a prescription due to cost compared with 5% of people living in areas of least disadvantage.
- 80% of people felt their GP always showed them respect, and 76% reported they always spent enough time with them. These had both increased since 2014-15 from 78% and 72% respectively.
- 8% of people saw an after hours GP in the previous 12 months.
- Over one in five (22%) people who needed to see an after hours GP did not see one at all.
- The proportion of people who saw a GP after hours through a home visit has increased from 17% in 2014-15 to 21% in 2015-16.
- 36% of people saw a medical specialist in the previous 12 months. Females were more likely than males to see a medical specialist (40% compared with 33%).
- Around one in four (23%) people who saw a medical specialist waited longer than they felt acceptable to get an appointment.
- One in twelve people (8%) who needed to see a medical specialist delayed or did not go because of the cost.
- Those living in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were more likely to delay seeing or not see a medical specialist due to cost (9%) compared with those living in areas of least disadvantage (6%).
- Around 1 in 2 (48%) people saw a dental professional in the previous 12 months. Females were more likely than males to see a dental professional (52% compared with 44%).
- One in five (19%) people who needed to see a dental professional delayed or did not go because of the cost.
- Those in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were more likely to delay seeing or not see a dental professional due to cost (27%) compared with those living in areas of least disadvantage (11%).
Hospitals, emergency departments and private health insurance:
- 13% of people were admitted to hospital in the previous 12 months.
- 14% of people had visited an ED for their own health in the previous 12 months.
- 57% of people have some form of private health insurance cover. This has increased from 55% in 2012-13.
- 34% of people living in areas of greatest disadvantage have some form of private health insurance compared with 77% of those living in areas of least disadvantage.
Coordination of health care:
- 16% of people saw three or more health professionals for the same condition.
- Of those who saw three or more health professionals for the same condition, 70% of people reported that a health professional helped coordinate their care. The health professional most likely to coordinate care was a GP (61%), followed by a medical specialist (24%).
- Among those who saw three or more health professionals for the same condition, one in eight (13%) reported that there were issues caused by a lack of communication between the health professionals.