Potentially preventable hospitalisations (also called potentially avoidable hospitalisations or ambulatory care sensitive conditions) are those that may have been prevented by timely and effective provision of non-hospital or primary health care.
This is the second report by the National Health Performance Authority (the Authority) on potentially preventable hospitalisations. There are 22 conditions for which a hospitalisation is considered to be potentially preventable (Box 2).
Reducing potentially preventable hospitalisations is a focus for the newly established Primary Health Networks (PHNs). PHNs were set up by the Australian Government in mid-2015 to ‘increase the efficiency and effectiveness of medical services for patients, particularly those at risk of poor health outcomes’ and to ensure ‘patients receive the right care at the right place and right time’.1
This report measures potentially preventable hospitalisations in two main ways:
- The number of hospitalisations that could have been prevented through more timely and effective primary health care, reported as a population rate
- The number of hospital bed days for potentially preventable hospitalisations, recognising that some conditions require patients to be in hospital for longer and some hospitals keep patients with the same condition longer than other similar hospitals.2
Local Hospital Networks may find the number of hospital bed days of interest because they have the opportunity to reduce the length of stay.
It is important to recognise that a potentially preventable hospitalisation (PPH) does not mean that a person admitted for a PPH did not need to be hospitalised at that time. Rather, the admission may have been prevented by timely access to adequate primary health care to prevent the condition, or by managing the condition appropriately out of hospital.
This report highlights differences in the rates of potentially preventable hospitalisations nationally by:
- Comparing rates of potentially preventable hospitalisations for all 22 conditions across 31 PHN areas and more than 300 smaller local areas called Statistical Areas Level 3 (SA3s)
- Focusing on the five conditions that contribute most to potentially preventable hospitalisations and bed days. These are:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Diabetes complications
- Heart failure
- Kidney and urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Profiling potentially preventable hospitalisations for each of the 31 PHN areas (Primary Health Network profiles section).
- Australian Government Department of Health. Primary Health Networks [Internet]. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia; 2014 [cited 2015 Oct 13]. Available from: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/primary_Health_NetworksExternal link, opens in a new window.
- National Health Performance Authority. Hospital Performance: Length of stay in public hospitals in 2011–12 [Internet]. Sydney: National Health Performance Authority; 2013 Nov 7 [cited 2015 Oct 13]. Available from: http://www.myhospitals.gov.au/our-reports/length-of-stay/november-2013/reportExternal link, opens in a new window.