Research reveals startling lack of support for patients

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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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Written by Ben


Total Comments: 28
  1. 0

    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.

    • 0

      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.

    • 0

      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.

  2. 0

    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”….so 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.

    • 0

      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.

    • 0

      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

  3. 0

    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!

  4. 0

    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.

    • 0

      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.

  5. 0

    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!

  6. 0

    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.

    • 0

      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.

    • 0

      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.

  7. 0

    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.

    • 0

      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.

    • 0

      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.

    • 0

      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.

  8. 0

    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.

    • 0

      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.

  9. 0

    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.

  10. 0

    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.

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