What Do We Think Of Our Hospitals?

HCF’s three-year study of over 35,000 patient experiences in hospital has made some interesting health care findings. CANSTAR investigates.

HCF, the not-for-profit health fund has released results from over 35,000 member surveys collected over the last three years, revealing valuable insights into how Australia’s public and private hospitals are faring. Comprehensive data from the HCF Hospital Patient Experience Survey unveils statistics on member hospital admissions and qualitative insights into patient experiences while in hospital, including interactions with clinical staff.

Shaun Larkin, HCF Managing Director, says transparency and education is key in ensuring positive patient experiences and outcomes in hospital.

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“Our members are telling us that they want a partner that stays with them before, during and after their hospital admission. Based on this feedback we have changed, and will continue to change, the way we communicate to members to help them better navigate the healthcare system and make informed decisions.”

What patients said about Australian hospitals

Some of the key findings throughout the survey process included:

medical staff Medical staff at both public and private hospitals are rated well, however there is scope for improvement in medication management – 1 in 10 patients didn’t have medication side-effects explained to them, and 1 in 5 didn’t always know what their medication was for.
private hospitals Private hospitals outperform public hospitals, but public hospitals are improving and closing the gap – the average recommendation score for private hospitals is 9 out of 10, public hospitals increasing to 8.3 out of 10 (up from 7.8 in 2013).
expectations Significant disconnect between member expectations and actual experiences in public hospitals – 60% of HCF members did not receive their choice of doctor in a public hospital, and only 20% received a single room, despite being admitted as a private patient.
outcome Most patients (9 in 10) received post-discharge assistance with their medical team – however 19% of patients didn’t receive any information in writing about symptoms or health problems to look out for after leaving the hospital.
discharge assistance At least 4% of patients surveyed wouldn’t have chosen to have their hospital treatment if they had known the outcome.

What Australians we surveyed said about their health insurance

A separate CANSTAR Blue survey of almost 1,500 Australians who have made a health insurance claim over the past three years discovered that 26% of those surveyed found that when they made a health insurance claim, the out-of-pocket expense was more money than they thought, and just over a third (36%) of Aussies have compared health insurance policies in the last three years with 13% switching funds.

NSW was the highest participator with almost a third of all surveys completed in that state. A whopping 17% of those surveyed were considering going without health cover in order to save money, and 16% said they wished they could afford a better level of health cover than they currently have.

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As there are more than 10 million hospitalisations in public and private hospitals in Australia each year, it’s important to take an active role in health choices and understand your options before, during, and after admission to hospital. If you’re considering taking out health insurance, it’s important to do your research.

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