More people are seeing multiple health professionals

Media Release
Released
16/11/2020

The proportion of people seeing three or more health professionals for the same condition increased in 2019-20, according to the results of a survey of patient experiences released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS health statistics spokesperson, Robert Long, said in 2019-20, 16.6 per cent of people saw three or more health professionals for the same condition compared to 15.1 per cent in 2018-19.

“Of these people, around seven in ten people (71.9 per cent) reported that at least one health professional helped coordinate their care, and only 14.3 per cent reported issues caused by a lack of communication between health professionals.”

The survey also showed that general practitioners (GPs) remained the most frequently consulted health professionals.

“More than eight in ten people (83.2 per cent) saw a GP at least once, similar to last year (82.8 per cent).

“As you would expect, older people (85 years and over) were more likely to see a GP (98.3 per cent) than those aged 15 to 24 years (70.9 per cent).”

People with a long-term health condition (94.5 per cent) were also more likely to see a GP than those without a long-term health condition (71.5 per cent).

In other survey results, more Australians delayed or did not see a dental professional when needed compared to last year (30.4 per cent in 2019-20 compared to 28.2 per cent in 2018-19).

“This could be related to restrictions imposed in response to COVID-19, with dental services affected during the pandemic,” Mr Long said.

“Although the survey did not explicitly ask about the impacts of COVID-19, it is possible that the impact of COVID-19 restrictions contributed to an increase in people reporting ‘Other’ as the main reason they did not see a dental professional when needed (11.0 per cent compared to 8.2 per cent in 2018-19).”

The survey also showed that more than half (56.5 per cent) of people had some form of private health insurance, similar to last year (56.9 per cent). People living in areas of greatest socio-economic disadvantage were less likely to have private health insurance cover (33.2 per cent) compared to those living in areas of least disadvantage (76.5 per cent).

This survey was conducted in 2019-20 and therefore covers the pre COVID-19 period as well as the period from the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic up to June 30, 2020.

 Further information can be found in Patient Experiences in Australia: Summary of Findings, 2019-20 available for free download from the ABS website, http://www.abs.gov.au.

Media Notes

  • For this publication, dental professional includes dentist, dental hygienist and dental specialists.
  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
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