Patient perspectives revealed

The latest Australian Healthcare Index from the Australian Patients Association and Healthengine reveals Australians are struggling to access and afford essential healthcare.

While the report reveals the top three issues facing Australian healthcare are: the cost of private health insurance (45%), emergency department waiting room times (40%) and access to mental health care (39%), it also looks at pharmacy-specific areas including the cost of prescription medications and pharmacy scope of practice.

On the pharmacy front, participants were asked about their take on the cost of prescription medicine and about the scope of pharmacy practice – specifically the increased role of pharmacists in terms of diagnosing and prescribing, in particular from the perspective of the North Queensland Pharmacy Scope of Practice Pilot.

Cost of prescription medications

Regarding the cost of prescription medications, 24% of respondents reported that prescription medications are unaffordable, suggesting some people may choose between medication and other essentials in the current economic climate.

In fact, the report reveals only 25% of Australians said prescription medication was affordable outright. 31% said a concession card makes prescription medication affordable as does the PBS (reported by 18% of respondents).

Pharmacy scope of practice

Regarding the scope of practice, the report suggests that while 25% of respondents reported not being comfortable with the increased scope of practice, on the whole, Australians are largely open to an increased opportunity for pharmacists to support their healthcare journey:

  • 53% of respondents said they would be comfortable with pharmacists with additional training, diagnosing select conditions and prescribing needed medications.
  • 15% were open to the idea, saying they’d want to learn more about the included conditions.

Ensure affordable access 

“As the economy struggles, it is more important than ever to ensure that Australians can access and afford the health services they need,” CEO of the Australian Patient Association, Stephen Mason said.

Dr Marcus Tan, CEO and founder of Healthengine adds that Australia’s healthcare rating is dropping and is “under stress”.

“People who completed the survey rated Australian healthcare a 7.2 out of 10, dropping from 7.8 in March 2021 to 7.6 in Oct 2021. The overall trend is heading in the wrong direction suggesting that the Australian healthcare system is under stress, likely leading to worse experiences and outcomes.

“We view this as a concerning leading indicator that an impending and significant health crisis is on our hands,” Dr Tan said.

Report results webinar session 

Anyone interested in learning more about the report results can join in on the upcoming webinar, ‘Patient Perspective Revealed: Learnings from the Australian Healthcare Index’ on 28 June at 1 PM AEST.

Healthengine’s Dr Marcus Tan will moderate a discussion with healthcare leaders including Suzanne Greenwood of The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Stephen Mason of the Australian Patients Association, Learne Durrington of WA Primary Health Alliance and Dr Todd Cameron of Scale My Clinic.

To register for the webinar, visit: healthengine.zoom.us/webinar/register/3116554538487/WN_gYbg2M24SdCim1tOYctqZQ

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