How does patient care relate to hospital profits?
Most people who fall ill, just want to be taken care of in an efficient and caring manner. Hospital profits are the last thing on their minds. The health sector likes to present itself as a modern, scientific and caring industry. Prompt ambulances, knowledgable doctors, supportive nurses. What the industry is not so keen to reveal is it’s million dollar contracts and extensive sub contracting arrangements between pharmaceutical companies, medical device industries, hospitals, pathology clinics and doctors.
Consider the following. Health care is currently Australia’s largest employer. Australian spends 8.7% of it’s Gross Domestic Profit on healthcare. 32% of this spending is private. This equates to $4,441 per person, per year. Australians out of pocket medical bills are second only to America and Switzerland. Healthcare is being rapidly privatised, with one third of all hospital beds now private. Fragmentation, lack of accountability and failure to reform are a hallmark of Australia’s mixed Federal/State, public/private health system. Over servicing or the routine ordering of unnecessary tests, hospital admissions and medical treatments is rising, driven by ‘fee for service’ model.
No hospital funding, public or private is currently linked to hard proof of improved outcomes for patients. There is no national system of patient feedback on hospitals performance. Australian cannot access information on pricing, staffing and skills levels, use of high quality computer systems or past history of errors. Reports on poorly performing hospitals and doctors have been collected and put into extensive reports. However they are currently hidden from the Australian public, under privacy laws. Politicians are aware of these reports, and choose not to release them.
How does the private health system affect patient care in America? According to major health investigators, entrenched and highly sophisticated fraud is costing the USA tax payers billions of dollars. Dr Marty Makary speaks out.
Here in Australia some senior medical staff have been forced to sign ‘gag’ orders as part of their employment contracts. Few patients realise the pressure that doctors and nurses can come under in a privatised healthcare environment, to push through more patients, in a smaller time frames, in order to make greater profits.
So what can Australians do, when facing medical treatments? First, understand that a problem exists and that it has the potential to impact on their patient care. Investigate what hospital you choose to go into carefully. Are they for profit? If so, what proof do they actually offer that care will be given that is safe and effective? Demand clear information on their actual staffing levels, the resources they have invested in providing safe and effective care. Treat healthcare like any other large, profitable and privatised industry.
A website style ‘Trip Advisor’ for Hospitals, Clinics and Nursing Homes is badly needed in Australia. The more information patients have, the safer they will be.
The Guardian – healthcare spending around the world.
Patient safety in private hospitals the known and unknown risks – CHPI
Private health insurance – high in cost and low in equity