4839.0 - Patient Experiences in Australia: Summary of Findings, 2015-16 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 15/11/2016   
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MEDICAL SPECIALISTS

Medical specialists play a crucial role in the management and treatment of health conditions where they have specialist knowledge and skills. Examples of medical specialists include dermatologists, cardiologists, neurologists and gynaecologists. This chapter presents data on people who saw a medical specialist in the previous 12 months. Respondents were asked about the frequency of their visits, as well as about the services they had used, waiting times, barriers to accessing care and their experience with the medical specialists.

Of the 6.9 million (36%) persons aged 15 years and over who saw a medical specialist at least once in the previous 12 months, 32% went once, 39% went two to three times and the remaining 29% went four or more times. Overall, females were more likely than males to see a medical specialist (40% compared with 33%). The proportion of people who saw a medical specialist generally increased with age. Around one in four people (24%) aged 15-24 years saw a medical specialist in the previous 12 months, compared with almost two in three people (61%) aged 75 - 84 years old. These patterns were similar for 2013-14 and 2014-15. See Tables 2.2 and 11.2 in Downloads.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons 15 years and over, visited a medical specialist in the previous 12 months

Source(s): Patient Experience Survey: Summary of Findings



People living in areas of least socio-economic disadvantage were more likely to see a medical specialist than those living in the areas of most disadvantage (39% compared with 36%). People living in major cities were more likely to see a medical specialist than those living in outer regional, remote or very remote areas (37% compared with 34%). See Table 3.2 in Downloads.

Visits to medical specialists were also related to health characteristics, with those having a long term health condition more than twice as likely to see a medical specialist than those without (52% compared with 20%). Similarly, those who rated their health as fair or poor were twice as likely to see a medical specialist as those who rated their health as excellent, very good or good (65% compared with 32%). See Table 3.2 in Downloads.

WAITING TIMES

Of those who saw a medical specialist in the previous 12 months, 23% of people waited longer than they felt acceptable to get an appointment with a medical specialist. Females were more likely than males to report waiting longer than acceptable (24% compared with 21%). These rates were similar in 2014-15. People were more likely to report waiting longer than they felt acceptable for a medical specialist than they were for a GP (23% compared with 19%). See Table 11.2 in Downloads.

People who rated their health as fair or poor were more likely to feel their wait for an appointment with a specialist was longer than acceptable than those who rated their health as excellent, very good or good (29% compared with 21%). See Table 12.2 in Downloads.

BARRIERS

A benefit of the Patient Experience Survey is that data can be collected from those who did not access health services, as well as from those who did. It is therefore possible to obtain information from people who may have needed to access a health service, but did not access this service, and the reasons they did not access the health service.

In 2015-16, one in twelve (8%) people who needed to see a medical specialist delayed or did not go because of the cost. Females were more likely than males to delay seeing or not see a medical specialist due to cost (10% compared with 6%). Older adults were less likely than younger adults to delay seeing or not see a medical specialist due to cost, with 2% of people aged 65 years and over in this category, compared with 12% of people aged 25 to 44 years. See Table 11.2 in Downloads.

Those with a long term health condition were more likely to delay seeing or not see a medical specialist due to cost than those without (9% compared with 5%). See Table 12.2 in Downloads.

People living in the areas of most socio-economic disadvantage were more likely to delay seeing or not see a medical specialist due to cost than those living in areas of least disadvantage (9% compared with 6%). See Table 12.2 in Downloads.

EXPERIENCE WITH MEDICAL SPECIALISTS

The way that a patient is treated by a health professional is an important aspect of their satisfaction with their care. All respondents who had seen a medical specialist were asked for their perceptions on how they were treated by the medical specialist they had seen.

Of those who had seen a medical specialist in the previous 12 months, 79% reported that the medical specialist always listened carefully to them, 82% reported that they always showed them respect and 80% reported that they always spent enough time with them. These rates had all increased since 2014-15 (77%, 80%, 78% respectively). See Table 12.2 in Downloads.