Challenges in Health Care for Australia in 2019

Australia’s health care system ranks well globally. In general, Australians have some of the best health services in the world. Average life expectancy rates are rising (except in Indigenous regions, where we still have much to improve), and infant mortality rates are low.

However, Australia faces significant challenges for ensuring the sustainability of our health system. Our ageing population, growing level of chronic illness 2 , and funding restrictions all pose a range of considerable issues to resolve.

Hospitals, aged care facilities, and other healthcare service providers need to guarantee access, ensure quality, minimise risk (to patients and staff), prioritise patient care, and do it all within the available budget.

It’s certainly not an easy feat, but it’s also not an impossible one.

Let’s look at a few key challenges that Australia’s health care system will need to address in 2019 (and beyond).

Changing demographics

Our ageing population will continue to stretch the ability of health services to maintain access and quality nationwide. In 2013, 14% of the population were aged 65. It’s projected that by 2053, a whopping 21% of our population will be 65 years old 3 – nearly a quarter of our entire country.

While the average Australian can now expect to live longer (to around 82 4 years old), this longevity is often accompanied by increasing disability due to chronic illness. Chronic illnesses (such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease) pose a significant burden of mortality and morbidity on healthcare facilities.

Equipment costs

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities spend millions of dollars a year on medical equipment. Yet there are multiple leaks within many medical equipment life-cycles that cost facilities precious money.

The purchase, service, and management of assets such as safety equipment, hospital beds and chairs, medical supplies and more are a notoriously wasteful area within healthcare facilities. Due to a lack of consistency with suppliers, reporting and tracking inadequacies in-house, internal resource challenges, and external pressures, even the most diligent hospitals are missing opportunities to reduce their spending on asset procurement and management.

Healthcare equipment providers such as Keystone offer a solution that covers the entire life-cycle, from purchasing new equipment, servicing and preventative maintenance, upgrading, and disposing at end of life.

Quality and safety

A study has found that over 1 in 10 patients 5 admitted to hospital ends up with an additional health problem they didn’t have when first admitted.

Preventable health issues such as hospital acquired infections and fall injuries are among a larger group of medical errors that cost over $1 billion 6 annually. These additional diagnoses may result in a significant risk to the patient, and also add to hospital costs as their need for care extends.

In 2016-17, there were more than 34,000 instances of patients being treated for injuries arising from a fall in hospital. People aged 85 and over have the highest age-specific rate of falls within hospitals,
with an average of 13 cases occurring out of every 1,000 7 hospital stays.

Looking to the future of Australia’s healthcare system

The solutions to these (and more) challenges must involve new approaches to prevention, primary, and acute care and rehabilitation of sick or injured Australians.

At Keystone Health Supplies, we believe these challenges are not insurmountable, but can be navigated through cooperative relationships between care providers and the businesses that service them.

With advancements in safety equipment technology, falls and infections (such as pressure sores) can be minimised. Savings can be made to a facility’s bottom line through the use of more linear equipment management through its entire life-cycle, as well as better options for equipment procurement in the first place.

Keystone is dedicated to helping healthcare facilities reduce instances of hospital acquired injury through better equipment, training, and support. To discuss your facility’s safety equipment rental, purchase or maintenance, contact our knowledgeable team on 1300 547 877.

*References from:

https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2007/187/9/challenges-health-and-health-care-australia#0_i1092029
https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2018/contents/table-of-contents
https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/19dbc591-b1ef-4485-80ce-029ff66d6930/6_9-health-ageing.pdf.aspx
https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/life-expectancy-death/deaths-in-australia/contents/life-expectancy
https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2013/199/8/measuring-incidence-hospital-acquired-complications-and-
their-effect-length-stay
https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2007/187/9/challenges-health-and-health-care-australia#0_i1092057
https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2018/contents/indicators-of-australias-
health/falls-resulting-in-patient-harm-in-hospitals