A NATIONAL comparison of more than 80 of Australia’s largest hospitals has found the relative cost of care at the John Hunter Hospital is less than average.
Across major metropolitan hospitals, the average “comparable cost of care” for acute admitted patients in 2011-12 was $4900, while at Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital it was $4500.
Some hospitals were found to cost twice the average for each unit of activity in 2011-12 when compared to other similar hospitals, and after adjusting for the different types of services provided and complexity of patients.
The report, prepared by the National Health Performance Authority and released on Thursday, breaks new ground by being the first national comparison of hospital costs that fairly accounts for the fact that some hospitals perform more complicated operations or see sicker patients.
However, it does not consider the quality of care provided, or the health outcomes experienced by patients.
“As a result, it is not possible to conclude whether a hospital with lower or higher cost per unit of activity provides better or worse health outcomes than other hospitals, and therefore the Authority makes no determination in this report that any particular hospital is performing well or poorly,” the report says.
John Hunter Hospital general manager Debbie Bradley welcomed the report saying staff work hard to move patients through the Emergency Department into hospital beds quickly, and ensure patients receive their surgery on time.
“The health dollar is a finite resource and John Hunter Hospital works hard to deliver the best possible patient care within our allocated budget,” Ms Bradley said.
Changes to improve patient care also included emergency department patients being triaged before registering with clerical staff, and a new model relying on doctors and nurses to working towards a more coordinated and streamlined approach to patient care.