This report uses results from the 2016 Survey of Health Care to examine patients’ experiences of ‘information continuity’—the sharing of their health information—between general practitioners (GPs) and other health-care providers, such as specialists, hospitals (including emergency departments), and allied health professionals.
It looks at differences across remoteness areas and Australia’s 31 Primary Health Network (PHN) areas, and the influence of sociodemographic factors, such as a person’s age, and the language they speak at home.
The report is the second in the AIHW’s coordination of health care series. The first report, Coordination of health care: experiences with GP care among patients aged 45 and over 2016, looked at ongoing relationships between patients and their usual GP or place of care. It found that the vast majority (98%) of patients surveyed had either a usual GP or usual place of care.
The 2016 Survey of Health Care focused on Australians aged 45 and over who had seen a GP between November 2014 and November 2015.
Nearly all patients say their GP is aware of their health-care history
Of patients who had visited either a usual GP or place of care, almost all (98%) reported that their usual GP or others in their usual place of care seemed aware of their health-care history.
Of the people who reported that they had health-care needs and preferences, 9 in 10 (92%) felt that their health professional understood those well.
Of patients who said that they needed information about their care or treatment, 9 in 10 (92%) said that they received enough information overall.
Patients aged 45–54 are most likely to say that they do not receive enough information about their care
A higher proportion of patients aged 45–54 reported more negative experiences of information sharing. Patients in this age group (12%) were twice as likely as patients aged 65 and over (6%) to report that they did not receive enough information about their care or treatment.
Similar results were found on information sharing to and from providers. Patients aged 45–54 (17%) were more likely than those aged 85 and over (6%) to report that their usual GP or place of care did not seem informed about their specialist care.
Patients who live in remote areas are more likely to say their GP is not informed of visits to other providers
People who live in remote areas face unique challenges of distance and barriers to accessing their health care. This report shows that for almost all measures, patients living in more remote areas more often felt that their usual GP or place of care was not informed of their visits to other providers.
Compared with patients in Major cities, patients in Remote/Very remote areas were more likely to report that:
- their usual GP or place of care was not informed after their most recent visit to a specialist (10% and 19%, respectively)
- there was at least one time when their specialist doctor did not have their medical information or test results (8% compared with 15%)
- their usual GP or place of care did not seem informed of their follow-up needs or medication changes from their last admission to hospital (14% and 25%, respectively).
Patients living in the PHN areas with the largest rural or remote areas also reported the highest dissatisfaction with sharing of information, particularly in the Northern Territory and Western Queensland.
People with no usual GP were 2–3 times as likely to report poor sharing of information as those with a usual GP
Patients who had a usual place of care only, and no usual GP, were more likely to report worse experiences of information sharing than both those with a usual GP only, and those with a usual GP and place of care.
Of patients who visit an emergency department, 1 in 4 say information is not shared with their usual GP or usual place of care
Almost 1 in 4 patients (23%) who visited a hospital emergency department (ED) reported that there was inadequate sharing of information back to their usual GP or usual place of care, with:
- 1 in 7 (14%) saying that their usual GP or usual place of care did not seem informed of their follow-up needs
- 1 in 11 (9%) saying that their usual GP or usual place of care did not know about their ED visit until the patient told them.
Of the patients who were admitted to hospital, 14% reported that their usual GP or place of care was not informed of their follow-up needs, with:
- 9% saying that their usual GP or usual place of care did not seem informed
- 5% saying that their usual GP or usual place of care did not know about their follow-up needs until the patient told them.