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Care delivery is a vital piece of the puzzle

Care delivery is a vital piece of the puzzle

One of the biggest challenges for people in regional areas is the access to health care. It’s not so much that the services don’t exist, they’re just a long way away, or difficult to get to.

People on the North-West and West coasts of Tasmania know this better than most.

When it comes to accessing surgical procedures, more than one in three people who live in the northwest must travel to Launceston to get the service they need.

At this federal election, St.LukesHealth has lobbied politicians in an effort to help people access services closer to their home, or even in their own home. As a private health insurer – the largest on the North West Coast – we would love to be able to help more people reach outside of the acute hospital system and access the care they need in community-based settings.

But under current outdated regulations, private health insurers are only able to fund procedures when they are performed in an admitted hospital setting.

We need to be able to deliver new ways of care delivery which are not only more convenient for patients as well as more cost-effective. Private health insurance should be able to provide members with cover for procedures currently undertaken in a hospital setting outside of a traditional hospital, where clinically appropriate, by non-hospital health providers.  This would include services like wound care, intravenous infusions, rehabilitation, and other post-operative procedures that could be undertaken under the supervision of a general practitioner, or other health care providers in a community setting.

This would have the immediate effect of reducing inpatient demand at our public hospitals and focus on early intervention that addresses health issues before they become serious.

For the good of our community, where more than one in two Tasmanians are covered by health insurance,  governments need to ensure that private health insurance regulation provides insurers with the flexibility required to keep pace with modern care delivery settings, the changing health needs of our community and make it easier for people to access the care they need when they need it outside of hospital, which would in practice keep them healthier or reduce the length of a hospital stay.

Tasmania needs policies that will allow for genuine reform in the health sector.

Governments need to support a modern and dynamic health delivery approach that sees people provided with timely and appropriate care while keeping them out of hospital, not enshrining hospitals and hospital admission as the only gateway to care pathways.

Private health insurance reform is a critical piece of the health picture. Without a robust private health system, the public hospital system will continue to buckle and lurch from crisis to crisis.

Giving people more options to access the health care they need, close to where they live, will drive better health outcomes for Tasmanians, particularly in regional areas.