Australians’ health care outcomes continue to improve

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Health care outcomes for Australians continue to improve, but more could be done in the areas of maternal health and mental health.

That is according to the new Australasian Clinical Indicator Report 2011 – 2018, or the ACIR, published today by the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards (ACHS).

The 20th edition of the vital data report shows an increased uptake of manipulation during birth and a much higher restraint rate for mental health patients, indicating changes need to be made in health care provision in these two key areas.

As Australia’s most statistically detailed national report on the performance of 656 health care organisations (HCOs), the ACIR covers an eight year period and gives a comprehensive statistical overview of the results for each clinical indicator (CI) set.

It covers the latest healthcare trends across 20 sets of key clinical indicators.

The report noted there was potential for improvement in a number of areas including:

  • In 2018, there were 40 CI’s which showed statistically significant trends in a negative direction. Of these, 18 remained significant after allowing for changes in contributing HCO’s including: -
  • Gastrointestinal endoscopy – the rate of patients transferred or admitted for an overnight stay due to aspiration has deteriorated from 0.022 to 0.035 per 100 patients since 2011
  • Maternity – the rate of selected primipara (women who give birth once) with intact perineum has decreased from 19.7 to 10.9 per 100 primipara
  • Mental health – the rate of physical restraint has increased nearly threefold from 1.3 to 5.6, a change of 4.2 per 100 completed episodes.

However, there were many key improvements, including:

  • In 2018, there were 104 CI’s (a 20 percent increase) which showed statistically significant positive trends. Of these, 63 remained significant after allowing for changes in the composition of HCOs contributing.
  • There were eight CI sets that had an improvement in at least two thirds of all trended CI’s. They were – anaesthesia and perioperative care; day patient; emergency medicine; gynaecology; infection control; intensive care; paediatrics; and rehabilitation medicine.

ACHS president, Professor Len Notaras, said the ACIR remained the longest-run indicator set in the world, consistently capturing data and measuring trends for 26 years.

He said it assisted health care services to understand their own level of performance within a national context.

 “We are fortunate to have this asset which builds a clear understanding of where clinical improvements as well as deteriorations are occurring,” Professor Notaras said.

“It provides an immense opportunity for health care services to asses their own performance and compare how they are performing at a national level with their peers.

“There is no other comparable dataset in the world which has the statistical depth of more than a quarter of a century to it.

“ACHS continues to invest in the most authoritative report on performance achieved up to 2018 for the health services with nearly 29,000 submissions.”

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