This publication presents information from the 2014-15 Patient Experience Survey, which is the sixth in the series. Where possible, time series results comparing data from previous years to the 2014-15 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:
- 83% of people saw a GP in the previous 12 months. Females were more likely than males to see a GP (88% compared with 78%).
- One in twelve people (9%) saw an after hours GP in the previous 12 months.
- 21% of people who saw a GP waited longer than they felt acceptable to get an appointment with a GP. This was a lower rate than in 2013-14 (23%).
- One in twenty (5%) of people who needed to see a GP delayed or did not go because of the cost.
- 38% of people saw a medical specialist in the previous 12 months, an increase from 2013-14 (36%). Females were more likely than males to see a medial specialist (41% compared with 35%).
- The proportion of people who saw a medical specialist generally increased with age. Around 24% aged 15-24 years saw a medical specialist in the previous 12 months, compared with 60% aged 75 years and over.
- Around one in four (24%) people who saw a medical specialist waited longer than they felt acceptable to get an appointment with a medical specialist.
- One in twelve people (8%) who needed to see a medical specialist delayed or did not go because of the cost.
- Around 1 in 2 (49%) people saw a dental professional in the previous 12 months. Females were more likely than males to see a dental professional (53% compared with 45%).
- Of those who had seen a dental professional in the previous 12 months, 16% of people had received public dental care. Those aged 15-24 were the most likely to receive public dental care (25%).
- One in five (20%) people who needed to see a dental professional delayed or did not go because of the cost. People aged 25-34 were most likely to delay or not go because of the cost (29%).
- 85% of patients felt their dental professional always spent enough time with them, and 82% felt they always listened carefully.
Hospitals and Emergency Departments:
- 14% of people were admitted to hospital in the previous 12 months. As with other health services, females were more likely than males to have been admitted to hospital (16% compared with 11%).
- 15% of people had visited an ED for their own health in the previous 12 months.
- Of those who went to the ED, 18% of people thought the care could have been provided by a general practitioner. This was lower than the rate in 2013-14 (22%).
Coordination of health care:
- 18% of people saw three or more health professionals for the same condition, a increase from 2013-14 (16%).
- Of those who saw three or more health professionals for the same condition, 71% of people reported that a health professional helped coordinate their care. The health professional most likely to coordinate care was a GP, followed by a medical specialist.
- 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.