October 29, 2015

Chronic state of Australians’ health requires new approach


New survey reveals 62% of Australians identify as chronically ill with 53% of them overweight, anxious or depressed

The Medibank Health Check #7 – Chronic Disease Management – a challenge for most Australians – has found that although a large proportion of people identify as having at least one chronic condition (62%), they are not getting want they want from the healthcare system.

The survey reveals that:

  • 62% of respondents have at least one chronic health condition (with people on average suffering from 2-3 chronic conditions)
  • Reducing smoking, having a healthy diet and a good night sleep were rated as the top 3 ways to improve health
  • 94% of people want their doctor to understand their lifestyle and related health issues including chronic conditions
  • But 45% of the respondents noted that their doctor was often or always too busy to discuss matters outside of the specific consultation health issue
  • And that 77% of people are relying on sources other than health care providers (e.g. internet) for information to manage their health
  • So to cater for the growing numbers of chronically ill Australians, we need a different approach

Medibank Chief Medical Officer, Dr Linda Swan, said that the survey points to the need for a new and more collaborative approach to the prevention and management of chronic illness in Australia.

“GPs are doing their best to minimise and manage the growing number of patients presenting with chronic conditions but the increasing demand is taking its toll. 

“The survey shows that GPs are asking patients about their general health, offering healthy lifestyle suggestions and are being proactive in making suggestions to improve general health, including exercise and diet.  But people are also reporting instances when doctors are too busy and only able to concentrate on the health problem reported in the consultation. 

“People are relying on sources other than their GP with 77% of respondents saying they trust family, friends and the internet for health and lifestyle information.  And those with chronic conditions have a clear preference to take responsibility and control of the management of their health. 

“The key finding of Medibank Health Check #7 is that people want a better and more collaborative way to manage chronic illness.  People with chronic conditions want to take control and responsibility for their health and they want health professionals to remain a pivotal part of the process.

“Medibank’s CareFirst is a chronic disease management program that is delivered in conjunction with primary care providers.  It’s a new model of care that will support and empower patients to take control, reduce the impact of their disease and  lead to a reduction in the costs associated with chronic conditions,” Dr Swan said.

CareFirst is being piloted in South East Queensland. 

About the Medibank Health Check:

The independent survey asked 1,504 Australians their views on chronic disease management.  The seventh Medibank Health Check survey, undertaken in September 2015, is part of the quarterly health check series focusing on health or wellbeing issues, where the involvement of the health services sector may be required.

The Medibank Health Check aims to inform debate around such issues and help address emerging health concerns.  The ‘chronic disease management challenge’ was chosen for our seventh Medibank Health Check because we wanted to find out:

·         How many people had chronic conditions

·         Explore awareness and regard for the contributors to chronic disease

·         The role of GPs in the management of chronic conditions

·         People’s preferred approach to managing chronic conditions



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