OECD Reviews of Health Care Quality: Australia 2015
Australia’s health system functions remarkably well, despite operating under a complex
set of institutions that make coordinating patient care difficult. Complications arising
from a split in federal and state government funding and responsibilities are central
to these challenges. This fragmented health care system can disrupt the continuity
of patient care, lead to a duplication of services and leave gaps in care provision.
Supervision of these health services by different levels of government can manifest
in avoidable impediments such as the poor transfer of health information, and pose
difficulties for patients navigating the health system. Adding to the Australian system’s
complexity is a mix of services delivered through both the public and private sectors.
To ease health system fragmentation and promote more integrated services, Australia
should adopt a national approach to quality and performance through an enhanced federal
government role in steering policy, funding and priority setting. The states, in turn,
should take on a strengthened role as health service providers, with responsibility
for primary care devolved to the states to better align it with hospital services
and community care. A more strategic role for the centre should also leave room for
the strategic development of health services at the regional level, encouraging innovation
that is responsive to local population need, particularly in rural and remote areas.
Published on November 15, 2015
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