Research reveals startling lack of support for patients

Research finds lack of support in hospitals is putting patient wellbeing at risk.

Hospital patients lack support

New research released on Monday has found that many hospital patients struggle to navigate the hospital system, with some 28 per cent saying that it is even more confusing than buying a home.

The research, based on surveys of more than 1000 Australians who have been to hospital in the past 12 months, found that nearly half (45 per cent) of patients felt there was not enough support provided to those going to hospital.

The lack of support contributed to unwanted stress (81 per cent), confusion (54 per cent), feelings of isolation (10 per cent) and even contributed to compromised mental and physical health for some (58 per cent).

The research, commissioned by private health insurer Medibank Private, also found that half of patients admitted to spending upwards of three hours seeking help and advice about their upcoming admission, with one in four spending five or more hours trying to source the required information.

Interestingly, while 26 per cent of patients said they wished they had someone to talk to out-of-hours in the lead up to their hospital visit, many didn’t want to bother their doctor or specialist with ‘silly questions’ (31 per cent) – with 39 per cent turning to ‘Dr Google’ instead.

Looking at the factors concerning patients, 19 per cent were unsure about how to prepare for their treatment or procedure, while others were confused about the recovery period, such as how to manage pain relief or medicine (21 per cent), foods to include or exclude from their diet (21 per cent) and how to prepare their home for discharge (19 per cent).

Medibank chief medical officer Dr Linda Swan said: “We know from our research that patients are calling for more support in the lead up to and following hospital admissions.

“It’s clear that there are a number of unknowns when it comes to a hospital admission – from the process and logistics surrounding a hospital stay, to the management of your health following discharge – with many patients turning to the internet for answers.”

Have you been to hospital recently? How would you rate the level of support you received? How did you find the process? Was it confusing and stressful? What could be done to make things better?



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    22nd Jan 2019
    Our once fantastic public health system has been starved of sufficient funding and wrecked by inept and maleficent Li(e)beral governments. We now have a two-tier system where only the wealthy receive proper care, since they alone can afford private hospitals and health insurance.
    22nd Jan 2019
    I agree in general and where I live the private system basically sucks as well. Especially around the Christmas holidays when all the specialists take off for extended time away. I talked to one private hospital administrator here and he said it is a major problem and they have to hire in locums or just have no one to attend to Emergencies. Meanwhile our Public hospital has ambulances ranked up with patients inside them, waiting to be seen. In general it seems like our current government has undermined most aspects of our health care system, by stealth over time.
    ray @ Bondi
    22nd Jan 2019
    sadly both governments are to blame and they both keep the present system so the blame can be passed back and forth between the states and the commonwealth, and never admitting fault in any way.
    health should be a commonwealth concern but it appears once again that all governess want to do is prop up their wealthy mates and multinationals.
    Also, states are a thing of the past it is time we all had the same laws everywhere, and saved the money from the numerous golden troughs and spent that on health, everybody except politicians have had to reform.
    22nd Jan 2019
    I'd have to agree with "Knows-a-lot". Have spent the last 12 months dealing with the public hospital system after developing a rare heart condition. Not many doctors know much about it. I was given virtually no information when I left hospital. Felt very isolated when I got home, as I live alone and was unable to do even basic chores like get a meal. Nothing had prepared me for this. I had to push my cardiologist as my post episode symptoms severely limited my ability to function. Finally got a lung function test, and a heart monitor test. Took several weeks to get the results from these, during which time I ended up back in emergency with chest pain and arrhythmia. I was asked on three occasions during the subsequent admission if I would like to see a social worker, but despite my saying yes, nothing was forthcoming. I had a procedure and was sent home, again with very little information except "don't do too much" helpful. Have had to do much of my own research. Does not inspire confidence. And don't get me started on the wait times for outpatients clinics, have waited up to 6 hours one day.
    22nd Jan 2019
    I understand your issues patti. I had a knee op had leg in splint for 3 months could not get up and about easily. Was sent home with no help, I could not drive for 3 months so had to rely on neighbors to help me. The system stinks to high heaven, the funds are there but the government wishes to spend our taxes on immigrants/refugees, and overseas countries who misuse the funding we give them.
    22nd Jan 2019
    patti and Jannie Sometimes you have to simply eques help from the system or from family and friends. Patti request to your doctor that you would like to see a dietician .Through your doctor you should be able to receive home assistance from your local council. You need a referral from your doctor to access help
    22nd Jan 2019
    All of the concerning factors are questions that should only be answered by a medical person. If the patient doe not want to ask their own doctor then just who do they think should be giving them the information? Seems to me that yet again personal responsibility needs to be taken to get the information you need and unless you ask, no-one knows what you need or want to know or when you want to know it. The only 'silly question' is the one you don't ask!
    22nd Jan 2019
    I spent hours trying to fill in forms only to have to seek help from medi bank private only to be told I had to have the code numbers for the operation I was having and the time it would take.Plus time I would be in hospital as this was to have been 1 night and I ended staying 5 nights don't know how that helped.
    22nd Jan 2019
    I thought there is a law that requires the financial information up front. Where I am, we get print out statements that break down the costs. It gives the medicare fees, the surgeon fees and the amount out of pocket. The codes for insurance are also there on the statement. Some of the services needed are not mentioned but are listed ie anesthesia. The after care recommendations sometimes leave out essential recoup services, such as physio. If you feel you will need support after the medical event, it might help to get the phone number of the social services department.
    Barbara Mathieson
    22nd Jan 2019
    Depends on how ‘assertive ‘ you are!
    I’ve had a few friends who got “ lost in the system”!
    Be firm , but polite has helped me!
    22nd Jan 2019
    I agree and yet that requires knowing what is needed and potential needs if something does not go right during recoup.

    22nd Jan 2019
    No one cares. Too many people needing help. Public health system full of immigrants, I was at the Northern hospital last week and I was the only white person there, felt intimidated. The government cries poor, but they can give handouts to other countries. We pay enough taxes to cover our health system, the money is there but the government wastes it. So upset with all our governments from federal to local council.
    22nd Jan 2019
    I feel similar, it is like they have detached themselves from their purposes. The liberal government possibly does not actually support the concept of universal health care and might be in the pockets of the for profits which seems to be gaining ground these days.
    ray @ Bondi
    22nd Jan 2019
    here here Linda exactly. The libs would love a system like in the USA if poor and can not afford medications and that would cover 80% of us now you do not deserve it as you should have found a better job, what job!!!
    Now that we are a third world country owned by overseas multinationals there is little real work.
    22nd Jan 2019
    I haven’t had to make an appointment to go into hospital for over 40 years, but I did have to attend the emergency section recently, after having a heart attack, the front line service couldn’t have been better, everything was explained to me in great detail and effectively put me at ease as I was going through the process, what did amaze me was the post service rehabilitation, it was hugely responsible for my return to health in fairly quick time, they also had plenty of help available for people with limited English. I can’t speak highly enough of our health professionals and our health system.
    ray @ Bondi
    22nd Jan 2019
    yes, the people who work, or should I say slave in the public hospitals do their best, but sadly the funding is not there and never has been from the day [rivate health was brought in, who do you think pays the rebates, it comes from the public health system.
    22nd Jan 2019
    Agree, although when I had my incident I was asked if I was coming in as a private patient or public, I nominated public because if I went in as a private patient my policy dictates I have to pay the first $500, the hospital told me if I agreed to be treated as a private patient they would cover any out of pocket expenses, which they did.
    14th Mar 2019
    ray from Bondi,
    Your comments are correct. There simply isn't enough staff in hospitals including nurses. That also applies to some private hospitals.
    Some people who go to Emergency Depts. could wait until the next morning to see their GP, go to a GP Extra Centre or call an After Hours Dr. service. One of them is likely to treat you than Emergency Dept. in a Public Hospital. We have a few private hospitals with Emergency Depts. People are not going to use them when they have to pay about $280.00 or $220.00 for pensioners and cannot claim from Medicare or Private Health Cover.
    22nd Jan 2019
    Having recently been admitted to a public hospital,all can says go public. Private hospital I was admitted to a while ago gave no service.
    ray @ Bondi
    22nd Jan 2019
    and if you a really sick they send you to the public ward, probably an upmarket room but still public, they are just fancy hotels interested in making as much as they can, Sadly for want to of a better word that reflects my anger our benevolent master have deemed that is so.
    22nd Jan 2019
    If this study was commissioned by Medibank private, what is the Public system like.?

    Well in the Public System I had a major operation due in two weeks time and they phoned saying "your operation has been moved forward, can you be ready in two days"?

    Fortunately I had started preparing early and the surgeon was quite responsive to printed information I had got off Dr Google, sorting out what things applied to me.

    Otherwise I would not have had the right words to use to discuss things at that level.
    22nd Jan 2019
    I use the private system which is better than the public. My surgeon is good and supportive. I can ring the surgery for questions related to any concerns that I may have. Another hip replacement for me. N No I am not wealthy. Generally hospitals will not let you out of hospital unless you have care and support at home.
    22nd Jan 2019
    The private medical health system is totally inefficient and in need of a complete re-design. I recently went into a private hospital in Sydney over 500km away. On registration at the hospital I was told that they had been in contact with my insurance Co. Medibank Private with whom I have top hospital cover and that they had agreed to cover "all charges." However, on returning home I received a bill from the surgeon for $7,918.50. Medibank Private reimbursed me $574.15 or 7.25% of this cost. The anaesthetist charged me another $1800.00, the X-ray dept $160.90 and the pharmacy $114.82 for medication administered during the stay. For this lot I received another $159.40 from Medibank Private or 7.68% of my total outlay. I had to pay everything up from before I received anything from Medibank Private or Medicare which admittedly was more generous. My annual Medicare fees are over $3,000. On top of this, while laying on my back recovering, I was receiving bills from some providers with the instruction that in addition to paying their fees, to post to them the Medicare cheques that would be sent to me in the names of the providers; so a round robin of payments. I was then receiving text messages asking me to phone them urgently to explain why when recovering and immobile I had not reposted the Medicare cheques onto them. So in addition to your $3,000 pa private insurance fee you need a further $10,000 contingency sitting in the bank to cover medical fees not covered by private insurance and an administrator to look after the flow of bills and to redirect cheques

    In addition to the above, if I visit my local public hospital (I still pay the Medicare levy) they pressurise me and other private health patients to use our private cover to pay for treatment in a public hospital. What do they offer in return?? Not a private ward but a free newspaper and use of the television!! Our 'local public' claims that they get $5million a year from claiming on private insurance for public treatment. So now you know where your private premiums go, not in paying your medical bills but in propping up the public hospital system. I must say however, the medical care in the local public hospital is far better than the Sydney private hospital.
    24th Jan 2019
    Sounds like a story from a third-world country! Private Fund pays around 7.xx% of claims? A complete rip-off & fraudulent system!

    I hope you are able to send this to all Senior MPs that matter - PM, Deputy PM, Health Minister, your local MP, Opposition Leader (his team are useless), and anyone else you can think of. Maybe put it as a petition to re-design the system and provide us with with a "NO Gaps system" once we pay Medicare and Private Fund Fees, and send the link to all here to support it.
    22nd Jan 2019
    I was admitted to hospital from emergency 10 days before Christmas with double vision after my GP sent me there. The staff were excellent and very efficient although had to wait for doctor to do a procedure. I got to the ward at midnight, not knowing what would happen and other than knowing I was fasting for blood tests nothing else was mentioned. I went with the flow and got family to bring night attire, clothing and toiletries, I found a book on the wall behind me about my stay 2 days later. I found doctors who saw me didn't tell me a lot and only found the name of my condition when I left 5 days later and am now under my GP and have appointments to go to with specialist over the next few months. My condition has now improved and can only say the nursing staff were excellent considering they were short staffed at times. I would go into the public hospital again if I had to as no medical insurance and I was happy with my admittance.
    22nd Jan 2019
    I was a hospital social worker in the sixties and seventies. A large part of our work was to support people through the hospital system. Since then social work numbers have declined. Why not employ more of these highly trained people to provide very necessary support through a difficult ordeal.
    22nd Jan 2019
    Are those jobs done by volunteers now or was that something different, obviously volunteers wouldn’t have the same skills as a trained social worker.
    23rd Jan 2019
    If we didn't have as many freeloaders being let into the country and using our free health system then everything would function better.
    Although I have several friends that had urgent needs and the public system worked really good for them. Personally I like the private system even at a ridiculous cost.

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