Healthy Communities: Potentially preventable hospitalisations in 2013–14 - Report - Introduction

Healthy Communities: Potentially preventable hospitalisations in 2013–14

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Introduction

About this report

This report focuses on people who are hospitalised for health conditions for which hospitalisation is considered to be potentially preventable through the provision of timely and appropriate primary health care.

Regional variations are shown in the rates of potentially preventable hospitalisations, highlighting which local areas have higher and lower rates. People who live in areas with lower rates are considered to have access to stronger primary health care systems, which may prevent hospitalisations for conditions that can be more appropriately managed in the community.

There are 22 conditions for which a hospitalisation is considered to be potentially preventable (Box 2). Information is provided on age-standardised rates of potentially preventable hospitalisations for all these conditions combined, to give an overall picture of potentially preventable hospitalisations across local areas nationally.

Information is also provided on five conditions that contribute to almost half (47%) of all of potentially preventable hospitalisations nationally and account for almost two-thirds (62%) of bed days for potentially preventable hospitalisations. These are:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Diabetes complications
  • Heart failure
  • Cellulitis
  • Kidney and urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Hospitalisations from both public and private hospitals are included in this report.

The National Health Performance Authority (the Authority) bases its performance reports on indicators agreed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). This report provides insights into the indicator potentially preventable hospitalisations.

The report provides information on two measures to help identify whether targeted efforts may be needed in some local areas to reduce potentially preventable hospitalisations, and where possible, to help reduce the length of time patients stay in hospital. These measures are:

  • Age-standardised rates of potentially preventable hospitalisations. This measure indicates the number of potentially preventable hospitalisations in a local area, reported as an age-standardised population rate
  • Number of hospital bed days for potentially preventable hospitalisations. This measure indicates the volume of hospital bed days used by patients admitted for a potentially preventable hospitalisation (Figure 2).

Information is reported at the level of Primary Health Network (PHN) area, as well as for smaller geographic areas called Statistical Areas Level 3 (SA3s). Results at these geographies were not able to be reported separately for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people section). Results have been mapped to the area in which people live, rather than the area in which hospital services were provided.

Importantly, the data in this report relate to the period from July 2013 to June 2014, before PHNs were established. The findings therefore do not reflect the performance of PHNs, but may be used as a baseline to assess future performance.

Box 2: Classification of selected potentially preventable hospitalisations

In January 2015, a new national standard for potentially preventable hospitalisations was agreed by national health data standards committees (for details see http://meteor.aihw.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/559032External link, opens in a new window.). To maintain national consistency in reporting, the Authority adopted this standard. This group of conditions have been agreed by clinical and technical experts. They exclude some specific health areas such as mental health.

Chronic conditions

  • Angina
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Congestive cardiac failure
  • Hypertension
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Asthma
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Diabetes complications
  • Iron deficiency anaemia
  • Rheumatic heart diseases.

These chronic conditions may be managed in a primary health care setting to prevent the condition worsening and requiring hospitalisation.

Acute conditions

  • Cellulitis
  • Dental conditions
  • Eclampsia
  • Kidney and urinary tract infections
  • Perforated/bleeding ulcer
  • Convulsions and epilepsy
  • Ear, nose and throat infections
  • Gangrene
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Pneumonia (not vaccine preventable).

While these acute conditions may not be preventable, hospitalisation should not become necessary if people receive timely and adequate access to primary health care. These types of acute conditions are less likely to be impacted by differences in patient’s health needs or the treatment preferences of patients.

Vaccine-preventable conditions

  • Pneumonia and influenza
  • Other vaccine-preventable conditions (such as measles).

For these vaccine-preventable conditions, the condition is considered preventable rather than the hospitalisation.

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