Healthy Communities: Coordination of health care – experiences with GP care among patients aged 45 and over, 2016 - Report - Summary

Healthy Communities: Coordination of health care – experiences with GP care among patients aged 45 and over, 2016

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Summary

General practitioners (GPs) provide most Australians with their primary health care. The GP is often a person’s first contact with the health system—as such, the relationship a patient has with their GP is crucial to the delivery of quality, coordinated care across their life. This relationship, together with the continuity of care a patient receives, is the cornerstone of patient centred care—a model that involves the patient in their care and focuses on their individual needs.

This report uses the 2016 Survey of Health Care to look at patients’ use of, and experiences with, GP care. It focuses on whether patients have a usual GP and/or place of care and how this continuity of care affects their experiences.

The report also explores variation across Australia’s 31 Primary Health Network (PHN) areas, and the effects of sociodemographic factors, such as a person’s level of education. Patients surveyed were a sample of Australians aged 45 and over who had visited a GP at least once in the previous year.

Nearly all patients have a usual GP or place of care

Almost all patients (98%) had a usual GP or a usual place of care, and 8 in 10 (80%) had both a usual GP and place of care.

There was variation among patients depending on their sociodemographic characteristics. Patients were more likely to have a usual GP or place of care (or both) if they:

  • were aged 75 or over
  • lived in Major cities
  • spoke English at home
  • had higher levels of education
  • had private health insurance
  • reported poorer health and more long-term health conditions.

The proportions of patients with a usual GP or place of care were also high across PHN areas, ranging from 99% in Murray (Victoria and part of New South Wales) to 92% in the Northern Territory.

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The percentage of patients aged 45 and over who had a usual place of care only was 10%, the percentage who had a usual GP only was 7%, the percentage who had both a usual GP and usual place of care was 80%, and the percentage who had neither a usual GP nor a usual place of care was 2%.

Variations in GP care settings across PHNs

Across PHN areas, patients in regional locations such as Western Queensland and the Northern Territory were less likely to have both a usual GP and place of care, and more likely to have a usual place only. Patients in Perth South were most likely to have both a usual GP and place of care (85%).

Generally positive experiences of care from usual GP or place of care

Nationally, in 2016, more than 8 in 10 patients (84%) felt that the quality of care they received from their usual GP or others in their usual place of care in the previous 12 months was excellent or very good.

Around 9 in 10 patients (89%) felt that they were involved in decisions about their care and 8 in 10 were asked about things in their work or life that affect their health (82%) or felt comfortable discussing personal problems related to their health (81%) with their usual GP or others in their usual place of care.

Patient experiences of care also varied across PHN areas. Excellent or very good care from their usual GP or place of care was reported by 87% of patients in Eastern Melbourne, Western Victoria, Brisbane North and the Gold Coast, compared with 71% of patients in Western Queensland.

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Nationally, 84% of patients aged 45 and over rated their care as excellent or very good. Across Primary Health Network areas this ranged from 71% in Western Queensland to 87% in Eastern Melbourne, Western Victoria, Brisbane North and Gold Coast.

Having a usual GP and place of care is associated with better experiences

In general, patients with both a usual GP and place of care reported the best experiences of care, followed by those with a usual GP only. Patients with only a usual place of care reported the least positive experiences.

Almost 9 in 10 (87%) patients with both a usual GP and usual place of care felt that they received excellent or very good care in the previous year, compared with about 8 in 10 (81%) patients with a usual GP, and about 6 in 10 (62%) patients with a usual place only.

This was consistent across other aspects of patient care surveyed—over 8 in 10 patients (84%) who had both a usual GP and place of care in the preceding year felt that their usual GP or others in their usual place of care asked about things in their work or life that affect their health. This compared with 74% of patients with a usual GP only, and 70% of patients who had a usual place of care only.

Patient experiences were similar across the different types of usual place of care, including GP clinics, community health settings, and Aboriginal Medical Services.

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Patients with a usual GP and usual place of care were more likely to rate their care as excellent or very good. Care was rated as excellent or very good by:

  • 87% of patients with a usual GP and usual place of care
  • 81% of patients with a usual GP only
  • 62% of patients with a usual place of care only.

Patients’ experiences vary across sociodemographic characteristics

Patients with the sociodemographic characteristics that made them more likely to have both a usual GP and a usual place of care—for example, for patients who were aged 75 and over, lived in Major cities, had higher education levels and spoke English at home—were also more likely to report that they received excellent or very good care from their GP or others in their usual place of care.

However, this was not the case for health status. Patients were more likely to have a usual GP and place of care if they reported having poorer health and more long-term chronic conditions, yet these patients also reported less positive experiences. For example, around 7 in 10 patients (73%) who rated their health as poor indicated that they received excellent or very good care from their usual GP or others in their usual place of care, compared with around 9 in 10 patients (91%) who rated their health as excellent.

Length of relationship with usual GP is associated with patient experience

Survey responses demonstrated a correlation between longer durations of patient-GP relationships and positive patient-reported experiences of care. About 9 in 10 patients (89%) who had been seeing their usual GP for 5 years or more felt that the care they received in the preceding 12 months was excellent or very good. This compared with 3 in 4 (75%) patients who had been seeing their usual GP for less than 1 year.

The following link expands the table data. Show tabular data Hide tabular data
< 1 year 1–<3 years 3–<5 years 5 years+
Percentage of patients reporting excellent or very good care 75.1%
CI: (72.4 – 77.7%)
81.6%
CI: (79.9 – 83.2%)
85.0%
CI: (83.6 – 86.3%)
89.0%
CI: (88.2 – 89.9%)

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