BEACH Report confirms key role of GPs in primary health care, especially for older Australians
Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) Report:
General Practice Activity in Australia 2014-15
AMA President, Professor Brian Owler, said today that the latest comprehensive and authoritative analysis of general practice provides further evidence that Australia’s GPs are delivering efficient, high quality primary care to the community and providing the best value for money in the Australian health system.
The latest Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) Report, Australian General Practice Activity 2014-15, shows that 85.8 per cent of Australians visit a GP at least once a year, and confirms that the high incidence of chronic disease in the ageing population will put greater pressure on general practice.
Professor Owler said that the report reinforces the central role of general practice in the health system, the high regard that patients have for their GPs, the improved health outcomes for the whole community, and the incredible returns the Government receives for its investment in general practice.
“GPs continue to fit more into each consultation than they did a decade ago as patients, particularly older patients, present with multiple reasons for the encounter, and have multiple problems managed in an encounter.
“GPs are also spending more time with patients, with the average consultation now lasting almost 15 minutes.
“GPs are efficient, managing 94 per cent of the problems presented to them, with only one in 16 patient problems referred to another specialist.
“The Government should be praising GPs and increasing its investment in general practice.
“At the very least, the Government should be lifting the freeze on Medicare patient rebates, which is penalising patients and general practices across the country.
“Instead, the Government is regularly engaging in criticism of hardworking GPs, calling them ‘rorters’ in its efforts to sell its cost-cutting MBS review model and in its unbalanced portrayal of the latest Professional Services Review (PSR).
“The Government has been too eager to use the inappropriate behaviour of a small number of doctors – which the AMA does not condone – to tarnish the reputation of all GPs.
“The Government talks about valuing the work of GPs, but rarely follows up with support.
“It is time to back up that talk with action – invest in general practice, and publicly acknowledge the great value that GPs provide the health system and the Australian community.
“General practice needs to be seen as an investment, not a cost,” Professor Owler said.
The latest BEACH report focuses on the care of older Australians, with a growing proportion of the population aged 65 years and over.
The BEACH data confirms that the ageing population will continue to put more pressure on general practice due to the increased prevalence of chronic disease.
In this regard, compared with the average Australian, in 2014-15 older people had:
· 1.9 times more GP encounters;
· 2.0 times more clinical face-to-face time with GPs;
· 2.14 times more problems managed;
· 2.1 times more tests ordered; and
· 2.2 times more referrals made.
Patients 65 years of age and over account for 14.7 per cent of the population, but 27.8 per cent of all GP-patient encounters
Six in 10 older people have three or more chronic conditions, and one in four have five or more conditions.
Older patients visit their GP on average 10.4 times per year, and 98.6 per cent of older patients have a regular general practice.
On average, GPs manage 176.9 problems per 100 encounters for older people.
With the population ageing, older people have more chronic disease and higher health care needs, and they are going to need more diagnostics, more referrals, and more treatment and management.
The BEACH Report, Australian General Practice Activity 2014-15, is at http://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/2123/13765/4/9781743324530_ONLINE.pdf
4 November 2015
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Published: 04 Nov 2015