4839.0 - Patient Experiences in Australia: Summary of Findings, 2017-18 Quality Declaration 
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 13/11/2018   
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KEY FINDINGS

This publication presents information from the 2017-18 Patient Experience Survey, which is the ninth in the series. Where possible, time series results comparing data from previous years to the 2017-18 cycle have been included.

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 aged 15 years and over that accessed health services in the last 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 2017-18:

General Practitioners (GPs):

  • Over eight in ten people (84% or 16.5 million) saw a GP in the last 12 months. A higher proportion of females than males saw a GP in the last 12 months (89% compared with 80%).
  • The proportion of people waiting longer than they felt acceptable for a GP appointment has decreased from 23% in 2013-14 to 19% in 2015-16 and has remained stable since then.
  • People aged 15 to 64 were more likely to report waiting longer than they felt acceptable for a GP appointment than those aged 65 and over (21% compared with 12%).
  • One in eleven people (9%) saw a GP for urgent medical care. Of those who saw a GP for urgent medical care, nearly two thirds (63%) were seen by a GP within four hours of making an appointment.
  • Of those who needed to see a GP in the last 12 months, one in twenty five (4%) delayed seeing or did not see a GP at least once due to cost. Females were more likely to delay seeing or not see a GP due to cost than males (5% compared with 3%), as were people aged 15 to 54 years than those aged 55 years and over (5% compared with 2%).
  • Of those who saw a GP in the last 12 months, 74% reported that the GP always listened carefully to them, 81% reported that they always showed them respect and 76% reported that they always spent enough time with them. These rates were lower than those reported for both medical specialists (80%, 83% and 80%) and dental professionals (85%, 88% and 88%).
  • Young people aged 15 to 34 years were less likely than those aged 65 years and over to feel that the GP always listened to them (67% compared with 83%), always showed them respect (75% compared with 87%) and always spent enough time with them (70% compared with 84%).

After hours GP care:
  • One in eleven people (9%) saw an after hours GP in the last 12 months. Those aged 15 to 34 years were twice as likely to have seen an after hours GP as those aged 65 years and over (10% compared with 5%).
  • Nearly one in five people (19%) who needed to see an after hours GP did not see one at all. This has decreased from 25% in 2013-14.
  • Of those who saw an after hours GP, the type of clinic most visited was a regular general practice clinic (41%) (similar to previous years), followed by home visits (28%) and late night clinics (19%). The proportion of people who had a home visit has more than doubled from 13% in 2013-14 to 28% in 2017-18. Conversely, the proportion of people visiting late night clinics has decreased from 26% in 2013-14 to 19% in 2017-18 and those visiting an after hours clinic at a hospital from 19% in 2013-14 to 11% in 2017-18.

Prescribed Medication:

  • Over two thirds of people (70%) had received a prescription for medication from a GP in the last 12 months. Of all people who needed a prescription for medication, one in fourteen (7%) delayed getting or did not get prescribed medication due to cost. This was more likely for people living in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage than those living in areas of least disadvantage (10% compared with 5%).

Medical specialists:
  • 7.3 million people (37%) saw a medical specialist in the last 12 months. Females were more likely than males to see a medical specialist (41% compared with 34%). People living in areas of least socio-economic disadvantage were more likely to see a medical specialist than those living in areas of most disadvantage (39% compared with 36%).
  • Of those who saw a medical specialist in the last 12 months, 22% waited longer than they felt acceptable to get an appointment.
  • One in thirteen people (8%). who needed to see a medical specialist. delayed or did not see one due to cost. Those aged 15 to 34 years were more likely to delay seeing or not see a medical specialist due to cost than those aged 65 years and over (13% compared with 2%).
  • Of those who saw a medical specialist in the last 12 months, 80% reported that the medical specialist always listened carefully to them, 83% reported that they always showed them respect and 80% reported that they always spent enough time with them.

Dental professionals:
  • One in two people (50%) saw a dental professional in the last 12 months. More females than males saw a dental professional (54% compared with 46%). People living in areas of least socio-economic disadvantage were more likely to see a dental professional than those living in areas of most disadvantage (61% compared with 40%), as were people living in major cities than those living in outer regional, remote or very remote areas (52% compared with 44%).
  • People were more likely to delay seeing a dental professional in the last 12 months due to cost than any other health professional. Nearly one in five people (18%) who needed to see a dental professional delayed seeing or did not see one due to cost. Those aged 15 to 34 years were more likely to delay seeing or not see a dental professional due to cost than those aged 65 years and over (21% compared with 9%). People living in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were twice as likely as those living in areas of least disadvantage to delay seeing or not see a dental professional due to cost (26% compared with 12%).
  • Of those who saw a dental professional in the last 12 months, one in eight (13%) received public dental care. People living in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were more than four times more likely to receive public dental care than those living in areas of least disadvantage (26% compared with 6%), as were those living in outer regional, remote or very remote areas than those living in major cities (20% compared with 11%).
  • Of those who saw a dental professional in the last 12 months, 85% reported that the dental professional always listened carefully to them, 88% reported that they always showed them respect and 88% reported that they always spent enough time with them.

Hospital admissions and emergency department (ED) visits:
  • 2.4 million people (13%) were admitted to hospital in the last 12 months. The proportion of people who had been admitted to hospital generally increased with age, with one in ten people (10%) aged 15 to 34 years being admitted to hospital compared with one in five people (20%) aged 65 years and over.
  • 2.8 million people (14%) visited an emergency department (ED) in the last 12 months. In the child bearing age group of 15 to 44 years, females were more than twice as likely as males to have been admitted to hospital (14% compared with 6%).
  • People living in areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were more likely to visit the ED than those living in areas of least disadvantage (18% compared with 11%), as were those living in outer regional, remote and very remote areas than those living in major cities (18% compared with 13%).
  • When people who visited the ED were asked the main reason they went to an ED instead of a GP, nearly half (45%) reported that they were taken by ambulance or the condition was serious. People living in outer regional, remote and very remote areas were more likely to report visiting an ED because a GP was not available when required than those living in major cities (28% compared with 18%).
  • Of those who visited an ED in the last 12 months, 18% thought care could have been provided by a GP.
  • Of those who were admitted to hospital in the last 12 months, 78% reported that the hospital nurses always listened carefully to them (a decrease of 3 percentage points from 2016-17), 81% reported they always showed them respect and 77% reported they always spent enough time with them. The results were slightly lower for hospital doctors and specialists, with 76% reporting that the hospital doctors and specialists always listened carefully to them, 79% reporting they always showed them respect and 74% reporting they always spent enough time with them.
  • Of those who visited an ED, 75% reported that the ED nurses always listened carefully to them (a decrease of 3 percentage points from 2016-17), 77% reported they always showed them respect and 73% reported they always spent enough time with them. The results were slightly lower for ED doctors and specialists, with 71% reporting that ED doctors and specialists always listened carefully to them, 73% reporting they always showed them respect and 68% reporting they always spent enough time with them.

Private Health Insurance*:
  • One in two people (57%) aged 15 years and over had some form of private health insurance. Nearly one in two people (46%) had both hospital and extras cover.
  • People living in major cities of Australia were more likely to have some form of private health insurance than those living in outer regional, remote or very remote areas of Australia (60% compared with 49%).

*Private Health Insurance data has been collected periodically in the Patient Experience Survey since 2009-10 and was last collected in 2015-16.

Coordination of health care:
  • One in six people (17%) saw three or more health professionals for the same condition.
  • Of those who saw three or more health professionals for the same condition, seven in ten people (70%) reported that at least one health professional helped coordinate their care. For these people, a GP was most likely to coordinate care (59%), followed by a medical specialist (26%).
  • Among those who saw three or more health professionals for the same condition, 13% reported that there were issues caused by a lack of communication between the health professionals.