Have you ever received hospital treatment, either as part of your private health insurance benefits or via the Medicare healthcare system? If so, did you leave feeling like you had ongoing support during your recovery period?
According to respondents to a survey conducted by health fund Medibank, around one in five people said they left hospital feeling "confused, unprepared, unsure or unsupported, and concerned" during their recovery.
While we focus on improving the standard of hospital treatment, it's also worth looking into the help patients receive once their illnesses or injuries have been initially treated. If Medibank's Health Check survey results are a barometer for Australian patients' sentiments, there is a blind spot in after-hospital care.
Will you receive the help you need?
The survey shows that:
- Only slightly more than half (56 per cent) said they felt comfortable managing their health after a hospital visit;
- 86 per cent believed having a written plan when leaving hospital is important, while only 49 per cent said they received one;
- 87 per cent thought it's important to have their preferences around when to be discharged taken into account, yet only 57 per cent claimed to have experienced it;
- 94 per cent said being informed when to take prescription medication was crucial, though a lower 83 per cent believed they were properly informed.
One general practitioner working in Victoria, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, told Medibank that self-care is becoming a more common practice globally, especially with wearables and other technologies forming the future of healthcare.
However, he suggested the line might be blurred between self-care and receiving an adequate level of service from professionals, and patients may be underinformed on some crucial areas of their post-hospital care.
"Patients are often overwhelmed when leaving hospital, when they are already vulnerable. If they are equipped with the support and advice needed to make a more rapid and successful recovery from their hospital experience, that would be a great benefit," he explained.
Could after-hospital care be part of health insurance?
The research follows the announcement of a new part of Medibank's healthcare benefits, CareTransition – a program developed in partnership with some of Sydney's major hospitals to provide after-hospital patient care.
Medibank GP Dr Ian Boyd explained why such an addition to health insurance policies might be a welcome inclusion.
"An overwhelming majority of respondents to the Medibank Health Check saw the benefits of a coordinated after hospital program, with 56 per cent welcoming the service, 28 per cent saying it would improve the recovery process and 11 per cent wishing it was available when they left hospital. Only 5 per cent of respondents didn't see a need for such a service," he said.
If you are looking for more from your health insurance benefits, your policy might not be right for you and your family. For free and impartial advice from industry experts, contact HICA today on 1300 44 22 01.