PROMOTING TRANSPARENCY TO IMPROVE SURGICAL OUTCOMES FOR PATIENTS
Variations in cost, length of stay in hospital and readmissions for eight different surgical procedures are revealed in the latest data released to provide greater transparency on surgical practice to specialists and patients.
The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) and Medibank have again worked together to provide surgeons with an updated report on the differences in surgical practice and to promote conversations with patients.
Medibank Chief Medical Officer Dr Linda Swan said Medibank is committed to working with doctors and hospitals to continuously improve patient outcomes from hospital care.
“The Surgical Variance Reports aim to prompt important discussion across the healthcare sector about the different outcomes and experiences patients can have when they need surgery,” Dr Swan said.
“Traditionally, surgeons, GPs and private health customers have had limited access to information on key indicators such as the length of patient stay, rates of readmission or admission to ICU, and prices charged for services.
“These reports bring to light for surgeons the variations in different procedures within their speciality, particularly in the private sector. From this data, for example, we can see there’s a lot of variability in the length of the hospital stay, which may be the result of factors beyond just the patient’s characteristics,” Dr Swan said
Royal Australasian College of Surgeons President Phil Truskett said RACS is committed to ensuring surgeons have the information they need to understand variance across their specialty.
“We are committed to continuous improvement in clinical practice in Australia and the Surgical Variance Reports allow specialists to reflect on how they practice,” Mr Truskett said.
The Surgical Variance Report – General Surgery revealed that in 2014-15 and 2015-16:
- 114,695 colonoscopies were funded by Medibank in private hospitals, with 1,474 specialists performing the procedure. For the 1,270 specialists who billed Medibank for at least five colonoscopies, 32 per cent discharged all their patients on the day of admission. For these specialists, the average cost (including payments made by Medibank, Medicare and the patient) ranged between $1,153 and $6,308.
- 8,948 hernia procedures were funded by Medibank in private hospitals, with 922 surgeons performing the procedure. In 81 per cent of cases, the patient stayed in hospital for at least one night, despite RACS research recommending 70 – 80 per cent of hernia repairs in Australia should be done as same day procedures. For the 526 surgeons who billed Medibank for at least five procedures, the average cost (including payments made by Medibank, Medicare and the patient) ranged between $2,430 and $9,933.
- 5,016 gastric sleeve procedures were funded by Medibank in private hospitals, with 169 surgeons performing the procedure. For the 116 surgeons who billed Medibank for at least five procedures, the average cost of the procedure ranged between $9,360 and $20,848 (including payments made by Medibank, Medicare and the patient).
Dr Swan said Medibank covered more than 1.3 million hospital admissions in the 2015-16 financial year.
“Private health insurance is about offering consumers choice – their choice of doctor, their choice of hospital, their choice of timing. It is up to customers to make the choice that suits them and their healthcare needs, and specialists are vital in these conversations,” Dr Swan said.
The first of the Surgical Variance Reports on general surgery procedures was released in April 2016 and was based on data from 2014. This second series of reports provide up to date data for the financial years 2015 and 2016. The data contained in these reports is taken from de-identified Medibank claims data that RACS has considered and interpreted. No individual surgeon or patient can be identified.
The new Surgical Variance Report – General Surgery is available at:
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