A new healthcare report released today, The Third Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation (the Atlas), has been welcomed by NPS MedicineWise as an important insight into possible adverse outcomes when some medicines and medical tests aren’t used appropriately.
NPS MedicineWise CEO Steve Morris says the report – which looks at healthcare use in different parts of Australia as well as national patterns in the use of certain medicines over time – reinforces the value of the work done by key healthcare bodies across the country to improve healthcare outcomes for Australians.
“Our role is to provide guidance and direction on the safe and wise use of medicines and health technologies, so we welcome this report which identifies areas where healthcare may not be being used optimally,” said Mr Morris.
“This report identifies opportunities for organisations like ours to collaborate with others in this sector to improve the value and appropriateness of care.
“In particular, it’s good to see the Atlas highlighting areas where NPS MedicineWise has recently been vocal in improving prescribing and practice, including overuse of antibiotics and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) as well as inappropriate use of antipsychotics in older Australians.
“Clearly some medical tests such as colonoscopies and gastroscopies are being carried out at such different rates in different geographical areas, indicating that some people may be receiving either too much or too little healthcare.
“One solution to improving the quality of care is for healthcare providers and consumers to start important conversations with the aim of eliminating unnecessary and sometimes harmful tests, treatments, and procedures. These principles are embodied in our Choosing Wisely Australia initiative,” he said.
A number of recommendations developed by Australia’s health professional organisations and published under the Choosing Wisely Australia initiative are referenced in the Atlas. These include not using antibiotics to treat otitis media (middle ear infection) in non-Indigenous children aged 2–12 years, and avoiding prescribing antibiotics for upper respiratory tract infections.
Choosing Wisely Australia Advisory Group Chair Dr Matthew Anstey said: “The Third Atlas of Variation provides data on a number of Choosing Wisely recommendations, providing an opportunity for clinicians and consumers to question whether the items highlighted by the report are really needed. Through its clinical leadership and consumer partnerships, Choosing Wisely Australia is starting that next step of tackling unnecessary variation in healthcare identified in the Atlas.”
The Third Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation was launched today by the Minister for Health, The Hon. Greg Hunt, and was produced by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care in partnership with the Australian Institute of Heath and Welfare.
To read the full Atlas, go to https://www.safetyandquality.gov.au/Atlas