Primary care: pitfalls for GPs and practices

By Dr Bill Coote* , a former federal health minister advisor and former AMA secretary general, breaks down the forces reshaping general practice.

Last week, economist and serial health policy commentator Stephen Duckett told a Senate committee: “Every galah in every pet shop is talking about primary care payment redesign to reduce the emphasis on fee-for-service payment.” Continue reading “Primary care: pitfalls for GPs and practices”

W(h)ither general practice? Be careful what you wish for

Dr Ian Kamerman*

Let’s be quite clear. The move by the Department of Health to return general practice training to the colleges is a good thing. This is in fulfilment of their obligation to the Australian Medical Council.

This is, after all, what colleges are supposed to do, and now the general practice colleges will join their fellow specialty colleges.
However, my concern is that this may also signal a reduction in government engagement and its resourcing of general practice training.
What message is government sending? Continue reading “W(h)ither general practice? Be careful what you wish for”

Record 85.9 per cent bulk-billing rate

More Australian patients are visiting their GP without having to pay, with the bulk billing rate for the September quarter increasing to a record 85.9 per cent.

This is the highest bulk billing rate ever achieved for a September quarter – and significantly higher than Labor’s 82.2% when they were last in Government, according to Health Minister Greg Hunt.

“We’re spending more than ever before on Medicare – with record funding increasing each and every year from $23 billion in 2017-18, to $24 billion, to $26 billion to $28 billion in 2020-21,” he said. “Spending under Labor was $19.5 billion in 2012-13.

“Last financial year, Australian patients received an additional 21 million bulk billed GP visits compared with Labor’s last year in Government in 2012-13 – an increase of more than 20 per cent.”

Diagnosis creep: people made patients unnecessarily

Australians are increasingly facing ‘diagnosis creep’, where disease definitions are widened and people are unnecessarily turned into patients, experts say.

Dr Ray Moynihan (PhD), senior research fellow at Bond University, said expanded disease definitions were often decided upon by panels muddied by conflicts of interest, and had the potential to be harmful. Continue reading “Diagnosis creep: people made patients unnecessarily”

$24m: largest heart research grant in Australia

The Federal Government will invest a record $24 million to support landmark research into cardiovascular disease by The George Institute for Global Health. This is National Health and Medical Research Council’s third largest grant ever provided for medical research in Australia and the largest investment in research on cardiovascular disease – a disease which many Australians do not know they have. Continue reading “$24m: largest heart research grant in Australia”

Hospital data untapped: patients should have better access

By Stephen Duckett, Director, Health Program, Grattan Institute, and Christine Jorm,
Associate professor, University of Sydney

Australia’s health system is an information industry – it is awash with data. Tragically, though, the data is not well collated, not put into the hands of the people responsible for acting on it. Nor is it shared with patients. Multiple “data sets” measure the safety of hospital care in Australia, but they are rarely linked, sometimes incomplete, and almost always delayed. We have lots of data about hospital safety, but it’s not used to make us safer when we have to go to hospital. Continue reading “Hospital data untapped: patients should have better access”