Using Microeconomic Reform to Deliver Patient-Centred Health Care

The BCA has released two papers highlighting that Australia’s health reform process needs to deliver better value for money and the healthcare sector needs to have higher levels of productivity.

The key theme of the papers is that health reform is still not putting the patient first.

Health reform should focus on improved and strengthened governance, measurement and transparency.

The steps outlined by government to date are first steps only and need to be freed from the political process in the same way that other sectors have developed self-generating mechanisms for ongoing change.

The first of these papers, Using Microeconomic Reform to Deliver Patient-Centred Health Care, sets out the case for using microeconomic reform as part of health reform.

Its companion paper, Selected Facts and Statistics on Australia’s Healthcare Sector, contains selected financial and economic facts about health and the healthcare sector to support the first paper.

Together, the papers argue that without fundamental reform of the way Australia manages health and provides health care, the current system – already straining under burgeoning demand – will be overwhelmed.

Despite facing capacity constraints and demand growing faster than GDP, the health reform debate to date has been separated from economic reform and has not exploited the lessons learned from microeconomic reform in other sectors where increased consumer value was needed.

To argue that health care is not amenable to the use of microeconomic reform such as restructuring incentives and greater competition is to miss some key elements of health reform internationally. In many countries the development of patient-centred services and systems are delivering better outcomes for less cost. Technology can assist but only if the regulatory environment is right.