How much admitted patient care was provided?
In 2016–17, there were 11.0 million separations (episodes of admitted patient care) in Australia’s public and private hospitals—60% of these occurred in public hospitals, compared with 59% for the previous 4 years.
Between 2012–13 and 2016–17, the number of separations rose by 4.1% on average each year—by 4.5% for public hospitals and by 3.6% for private hospitals. After adjusting for coverage changes, public hospital separations increased by 4.3% on average each year.
There were 31 million days of patient care reported for admitted patients—21.1 million in public hospitals and 9.8 million in private hospitals. Between 2012–13 and 2016–17, the number of patient days rose by 2.9% on average each year. After adjusting for coverage changes, public hospital patient days increased by 2.2% on average each year.
Who used these services and why did they receive care?
In 2016–17, 42% of separations and 48% of patient days were for people aged 65 and over. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people made up 4.7% of separations (522,000), and they were hospitalised at 2.6 times the rate for other Australians.
In public hospitals, a large proportion of separations were emergency admissions (43%), while in private hospitals separations were more likely to be elective or other planned care (94%). In 2016–17, diseases of the digestive system accounted for 10% of separations (over 1.0 million) and injuries or poisoning accounted for a further 7% of separations.
How were patient admissions funded?
In 2016–17, in public hospitals 83% of separations (5.5 million) were for public patients. The remaining 17% of separations were funded by other sources—the majority (912,000, 14%) were for patients who used private health insurance to fund all or part of their admission. In contrast, 82% of separations in private hospitals were funded by private health insurance, 7% were self-funded and 4% were for public patients.
Between 2012–13 and 2016–17, the number of public patient separations rose by an average of 4.6% each year (and accounted for 51% of separations in 2016–17), compared with 4.3% on average each year for patients who used private health insurance to fund all or part of their admission (41% in 2016–17).
What services and procedures were reported?
In 2016–17, public hospitals accounted for the majority of childbirth separations (76%), medical separations (77%) and emergency admissions (92%). Private hospitals accounted for 59% of surgical separations and 55% of mental health care separations.There were 2.2 million separations involving elective surgery—33% of these were in public hospitals and 67% in private hospitals.
The median waiting time for public hospital elective surgery was 39 days overall—42 days for public patients and 21 days for patients who used private health insurance to fund all or part of their admission. There can be significant variations in waiting times depending on the type of procedure.
What was the safety and quality of the care?
In 2016–17, one of 16 high priority hospital-acquired complications (for which clinical risk mitigation strategies may reduce the risk of occurrence) was reported for more than 186,000 separations. These affected 2.9% of public hospital separations (143,000 separations) and 1.2% of private hospital separations (44,000).
The most common hospital-acquired complication in both public and private hospitals was Healthcare-associated infections (103,000 separations)—accounting for 58% of complications in public hospitals and 49% in private hospitals. The second most common complication category was Cardiac complications, (24% of hospital-acquired complications in public hospitals and 31% in private hospitals).