USING DATA INTEGRATION TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE HEALTH CARE EXPERIENCES OF PATIENTS
WHAT IS THE DATA CHALLENGE?
Navigating health care systems can be difficult, especially for people with complex, long-term health care needs. Access to well-coordinated and high quality health care is crucial to enhancing patients’ understanding, control, and self-management of their condition, leading to better health outcomes. Effective sharing of information between providers (for example, a general practitioner and a specialist) and settings (for example, the emergency department and primary health care) is crucial to ensuring people receive the right type of care at the right time.
Historically, there has been a data gap associated with understanding patterns of health care use and their relationship to patient experience and outcomes.
WHAT HAS THIS PROJECT ALLOWED US TO DO?
The Coordination of Health Care Study, undertaken jointly by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), fills an important data gap by providing information on patients’ health care experiences in Australia.
The study involves three stages:
1. 2016 Survey of Health Care
This survey explored participants’ self-reported experiences with health care providers and the broader health care system1 in Australia.
2. Linking MBS and PBS data
The second stage, undertaken in 2018, involved linking information from the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) from 2014 to 2018 to the 2016 Survey of Health Care, for consenting participants2.
Bringing this information together provided an opportunity to understand patients’ experiences of coordinated care in the context of their actual use of Medicare services and PBS medicines. Integrating these datasets creates a comprehensive picture of a patient’s experiences of, interactions with, and pathways through, the health care system, and can tell a much richer story than any one dataset could on its own.
For example, the majority of people (70%) who had seen a GP 20 times or more in 2015-16 reported that their usual GP always seemed informed about their health care history, while 61% said that they felt completely comfortable talking to their usual GP. This indicates that frequent visits to a GP can help patients establish and maintain ongoing relationships with their care providers, which in turn can better allow their needs and preferences to be understood and met.
3. Linking hospital admissions and emergency department data
A third stage of the study, underway in 2019, will link state and territory hospital admissions and emergency department data to the Survey of Health Care data, facilitating further understanding of the impact of coordination and continuity of care on health outcomes and health system usage in Australia.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Many patients experience fragmented health care that negatively impacts on their outcomes and can also lead to increases in health system costs. This study will help support local reporting on patient experiences of coordination and continuity of health care and define areas for improvement.