Queensland health consumers will be able to compare hospitals and aged care facilities under legislation enabling them to access information online.
The Health Transparency Bill, introduced into parliament on September 4, will see information about accreditation, the number of elective surgery procedures performed and the average time spent in hospital on a new website.
“The Bill will create a standalone legislative framework to collect and publish information from public and private health facilities and public and private residential aged care facilities on the new website,” a Queensland Health spokesperson told Government News.
Providing easy-to access information was a way of improving the health literacy of Queenslanders, she said.
“The goal of the proposed website is to improve the way healthcare information is delivered, by making it easier to source meaningful information about public and private health facilities across a range of indicators, in one central location.”
Queensland health said the website is currently being co-designed with health consumers and health professional stakeholders.
Melissa Fox, CEO of Health Consumers Queensland, says information is currently available but it is often too broad, and health consumers want something that is “meaningful”.
“They want to know (about) the safety of a particular procedure in their hospitals, the number that might be done in their facility, the infection rate or the complication rate and they want to be able to compare that to other facilities,” she told Government News.
“I think health information full stop is difficult for consumers to find, whether it be around safety and quality statistics or whether it be around evidence-based information.
“It’s hard for people to know where to find information that they can trust, and it’s hard to be presented in a way that’s easy to understand.”
She said information and transparency drives improvement and is a crucial cornerstone of a consumer-centred health system.
Ms Fox said health professionals often shun the idea of health consumers relying on “Dr Google” for answers on health.
“This website is going to be a way to give them a reliable, trustworthy source of information to make decisions about our care,” she said.
Public reporting a “high priority”
Research conducted by Health Consumers Queensland last year surveyed its members on 20 different topics and areas of health.
It found their number two concern was transparency of public reporting, with consumer and community engagement being their number one concern.
Ms Fox said this shows that “public reporting is a really high priority for health consumers”.
While consumers want to be informed about the safety and quality of health facilities, they also want this government website to provide information concerning other aspects of these facilities, Ms Fox said.
“Not only will it be safety and quality information but also there’ll be really accessible information around what facilities are available in someone’s geographical area around hospital car parking and food options because all of those things really do impact on people’s journeys, and they’ve said that’s what they want to be able to easily access,” she said.
Best hospital cities around the world
Meanwhile, a ranking of the world’s best hospital cities by UK medical provider Medbelle put Australian cities in the top 20, with Melbourne coming in seventh and Sydney and Brisbane ranking 11th and 13th respectively.
The rankings were were based on infrastructure, access and quality of care.
Tokyo topped the list followed by Boston and London.
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