Australia’s most inefficient hospitals revealed in NHPA report

THE nation’s most expensive hospitals have been revealed, with some procedures costing nearly four times more in some hospitals than others.

Major hospitals in Canberra (Canberra Hospital and Calvary Public Hospital), Queensland (Logan Hospital and The Prince Charles Hospital) and Western Australia (Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital) have been found to have the highest costs in the nation.

However, five Victorian hospitals have been found to provide the cheapest care in the country, a new report by the National Health Performance Authority has found.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Sunshine Hospital, the Northern Hospital, Western Hospital Dandenong Hospital and Maroondah Hospital all provided care at costs 20 per cent lower than the national average.

The nation’s most efficient hospitals ... All located in Victoria which pays hospitals a

The nation’s most efficient hospitals … All located in Victoria which pays hospitals a set price for each procedure. Picture: iStock Source: Supplied

 

The comparable cost of care at Canberra’s two public hospitals was as much as 32 per cent higher than the national average.

In Queensland, Logan Hospital and Brisbane’s The Prince Charles Hospital provided care that cost 16 per cent more than the national average.

The hospital costs reflect the amount governments pay for treatment under Medicare, public patients receive their care in public hospitals for free.

The average cost of care in major metropolitan hospitals was $4900 per admission.

The NHPA says reporting on hospital costs will help improve efficiency, hopefully prompting underperforming hospitals to lift their game.

Hospitals that cut their costs would be able to perform more surgery and help cut the waiting lists for public hospital care which can stretch to 12 months for some procedures.

“Every day, clinicians make decisions that influence, for example, the number and types of tests, treatments, devices, procedures and the number of days a patient stays in hospital,” the report says.

The salaries of medical staff, the length a patient stays in hospital, the number of medi

The salaries of medical staff, the length a patient stays in hospital, the number of medical tests ordered all contribute to the cost of a hospital stay. Picture: iStock Source: Supplied

 

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association chief Alison Verhoeven says higher cost doctors, longer stays in hospital after surgery and different medical test ordering practices can drive up the cost of treatment.

The analysis also shows the value of an activity based funding system for hospitals which pays hospitals a set efficient price for each procedure, she says.

The cheapest hospitals in Australia come from Victoria which has the most mature activity based funding model in the country.

“The government turned its back on Activity Based Funding in last year’s Budget, when it announced a return to a population and inflation-based funding model from 2017-18,” Ms Verhoeven said.

The report also compares the average cost per admission for 16 conditions and procedures at 80 public hospitals, however it refuses to name the best and worst hospitals.

Some procedures cost four times more to perform in inefficient hospitals when compared to

Some procedures cost four times more to perform in inefficient hospitals when compared to efficient hospitals. Picture: iStock Source: Supplied

 

Treating heart failure cost nearly four times more in some hospitals with costs ranging between $2600 at one hospital to $9500 at another hospital.

Removing an appendix cost just $4600 per admission at one hospital and up to $10,100 at another.

The cost of hip replacements varied from $12,500 at one efficient hospital to $25,600 at another hospital.

And knee replacements ranged from $10,600 at one hospital to $29,300 at another hospital.

Caesarean delivery cost just $5500 at one hospital but reached $15,300 at another hospital.

The Grattan Institute calculated last year that hospitals could save nearly $1 billion a year if the least efficient providers improved their performance to deliver care at the same price as efficient hospitals.

 

REPORT CARD

 

 

NSW

The Westmead Hospital in Sydney had the highest average cost of major metropolitan hospitals in the state at $5400 per admission, ten per cent above the national average.

Bankstown Hospital was the lowest cost hospital in Sydney, it cost on average 10 per cent less to treat a patient there than the national average.

Queensland

The Logan Hospital and The Prince Charles Hospital were among the most expensive in the nation costing 16 per cent more than the national average.

Redcliffe Hospital had the cheapest costs in Queensland, six per cent less than the national average.

South Australia

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital was the most expensive in South Australia, care in this hospital cost 16 per cent higher than the national average.

Lyell McEwin Hospital had the lowest costs in the state, four per cent below the national average.

Tasmania

The Royal Hobart Hospital had the highest costs in the state, six per cent above the national average while the Launceston General Hospital had costs six per cent below the national average.

Northern Territory

The Royal Darwin Hospital was the most expensive in the Northern Territory with care costing 12 per cent above the national average while Alice Springs Hospital had costs bang on the national average.