Research on the waiting times for malignant breast, bowel and lung cancer surgery will help lead service improvement, according to the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).
The National Health Performance Authority found overall results were positive but there were significant levels of variation between treatment for those with private health insurance and their uninsured counterparts across multiple facilities.
The degree of deviation between peer hospitals is particularly concerning as it implies that factors other than the patient's clinical condition may be influencing the delays in treatment.
"It is important that this information is used in a positive manner to focus on learning from others and improving the quality of services," AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven said in a November 28 media release.
"Delays in receiving services can arise from a variety of causes and it is important that the factors contributing to variation between hospitals are examined before implementing knee-jerk responses," she said.
The first step should be to identify whether surgery has been delayed for legitimate clinical reasons or issues within the system.
Additionally, system issues should be examined to determine whether insufficient resources have failed to meet demand, or the problem has occurred due to ineffective use of available resources.
The report shows the average national waiting time for patients needing cancer surgery in public hospitals is between 30 and 45 days.
Although the median cancer surgery wait time (the time taken to treat 50 per cent of patients) did not vary significantly between metropolitan, regional and local hospitals, specific facilities recorded extreme results.
For example, Princess Alexandra Hospital in Queensland only managed to see 39 per cent of bowel cancer patients within 30 days, while Fremantle Hospital treated 52 per cent in that time.
However, Princess Alexandra Hospital outperformed New South Wales' Liverpool Hospital when treating patients requiring lung cancer surgery, treating 67 per cent and 36 per cent of patients, respectively, within 30 days.
These results highlight the one major benefit of having access to private health cover.
With private health insurance, you have the freedom to decide when and where you will receive hospital treatment.
If you would like to take advantage of this health insurance perk, contact the team at HICA today.
We can offer an obligation-free quote and health insurance comparison to help you choose the cover best for your needs.