29 January 2016

How to manage the need for outpatient services

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Tens of millions of occurrences of outpatient care take place every year in Australia however outpatient services continue to be viewed as the ‘poor cousin’ of their inpatient counterparts.

A number of factors in acute health care have been pushing additional demand onto outpatient services, including the National Emergency Access Target (NEAT), National Elective Surgery Target (NEST) and of course the growing need to reduce health care expenditure. With the cost of a hospital admission priced at well into the thousands, it is very clear why health services are relying more and more on the relatively cost efficient non-admitted care.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 42 per cent of outpatient services were for “Allied health and/or clinical nurse specialist interventions” and only 34 per cent were for Medical consultations, in 2013-2014.

Faced with long wait lists with poor transparency many clinics are unaware of the size of the problem, this coupled with service users who are failing to attend and constantly growing demand for outpatient services in acute health outpatient services are under huge strain.

If hospitals cannot reduce wait lists and improve access and flow through outpatient services the implications will be far spread.

The NSW Bureau of Health Service Information’s survey of approximately 7 million outpatient services provided across NSW public hospitals. The feedback was over all positive however key access areas where highlighted as shortcomings.

Key issues to be addressed:

·         Appointments stating late
·         Inconsistency in health professionals seen from visit to visit
·         Rarely told how long wait would be for appointment to start
·         Poor parking availability
·         Cleanliness of clinic Increasing patient satisfaction
·         Improving waiting list transparency

 Having unfulfilled her childhood dream of becoming an international spy, Ellise is loving her position as Conference Production Manager at Akolade. Her favourite thing about the role is that it allows her to stay abreast of the latest news across a variety of industries while constantly learning from experts in their field.

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