Private patients highly satisfied with hospital care
Private hospital patients are highly satisfied with the care they receive from clinical staff but frustrated by the continuing lack of transparency around gap payments, according to Australia's largest and most comprehensive survey of patient satisfaction.
The survey, conducted by leading health company Medibank Private, also reveals it is smaller metropolitan and regional private hospitals that are leading the way when it comes to patient satisfaction, and names the top performing hospitals in each state.
The survey found that clinical staff, including nurses, doctors and specialists, were rated very highly by patients. The skills and knowledge of doctors were especially highly rated, with 96% of patients rating them good or better, and similar levels of satisfaction for the level of care and compassion they were shown by doctors (94% good or better).
The skills and attitude of nurses were similarly highly regarded, with 91% of patients satisfied with the care provided, and 90% satisfied with the levels of clinical skill and knowledge of nurses.
According to Medibank Private CEO Bruce Levy, the good news was tempered by findings that the delivery of informed financial consent to patients remains an issue.
"Accurate information on the fees charged by doctors and pathology providers continues to be a problem. Over a quarter of patients were not advised, or not advised correctly, of the gap they needed to pay by their treating specialist, with the performance of supporting doctors, in particular anaesthetists, poorer again.
"Of greatest concern however are gap fees for pathology tests and x-rays. Two thirds of patients reported not being advised that they would need to pay a gap for these services, and this is just not good enough. Doctors and hospitals need to take the issue of informed financial consent seriously.
"We encourage members to talk to doctors about fees, but inevitably it is something that some patients will find difficult to do. I urge doctors and hospitals to work towards achieving as close to 100% informed financial consent as possible " Mr Levy said.
Overall the survey reported good news for the private health system, Mr Levy continued.
"The survey has returned some terrific results for our partner hospitals across Australia. In general private patients are very satisfied with their hospital experience, which means private hospitals are doing a lot of things right.
"What was very pleasing to see is smaller hospitals are doing so well. In fact the survey reveals the hospitals that are performing best in terms of patient satisfaction are not the big, well known inner-suburban hospitals, but smaller suburban hospitals located in suburbs and regional centres," Mr Levy said.
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