Potentially avoidable hospitalisations are admissions of people to hospital that may have been avoided by timely and effective provision of health care in the community. This does not mean that a person hospitalised with a condition for which hospitalisation is considered to be potentially avoidable did not need to be hospitalised at the time of admission. Rather, the admission may have been avoided by timely access to adequate primary health care to prevent the condition, or by managing the condition appropriately out of hospital.
Potentially avoidable hospitalisations can be used as an indicator of the extent to which patients can easily access community-based health care services, as well as their effectiveness. If these services are not easily available, or are not working well, admissions to hospital that would ordinarily be avoided may rise.
This report includes the rate of hospital admissions for 21 conditions within each of the geographic areas, or catchments, covered by the network of 61 Medicare Locals.
The report finds:
- Even when restricting the comparison to Medicare Local catchments in metropolitan areas, the age-standardised rate of potentially avoidable hospitalisation ranged from 1,891 admissions per 100,000 people in one catchment to 3,148 in another, a difference of 60%
- Across regional Medicare Local catchments, the rate of potentially avoidable hospitalisations was twice as high in the highest-rate catchment compared to the lowest (range from 2,007 to 4,240 per 100,000 people)
- The report also calculates avoidable admissions across smaller geographic areas, and shows rates are at least five times higher in some local areas compared to others.