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News & Trends - MedTech & Diagnostics

APHA congress to tackle key challenges facing private hospitals

Health Industry Hub | April 3, 2024 |

MedTech & Diagnostics News: The Australian private hospital sector finds itself amidst one of the most complex periods in history, grappling with a significant disparity between private health insurance payments and the escalating costs of workforce, energy, and supplies. Despite playing a crucial role in providing acute care and surgical services, a staggering 70% of private hospitals are either operating at a loss or barely staying afloat.

Recent data reveals that private hospitals constitute a substantial 36% of all hospital beds in Australia, delivering 40% of acute care services and handling 60% of surgeries. In light of these challenges, the upcoming APHA 41st National Congress emerges as a pivotal platform to explore potential solutions.

APHA CEO Michael Roff emphasised the importance of the event, stating, “APHA Congress aims to provide hospital executives with practical advice tailored to their needs. It also serves as a vital networking opportunity for our members, facilitating the exchange of ideas and experiences.” Mr Roff added, “Given the significant challenges facing our sector, attendance at this meeting is imperative. We will not only discuss the threats confronting private hospitals but also explore solutions, drawing insights from diverse sectors and focusing on leadership in times of adversity.”

Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, private health insurers were grappling with declining participation rates and mounting costs. However, the pandemic ushered in an unexpected surge, with insurers witnessing 13 consecutive quarters of membership expansion, leading to record profits for many for-profit insurance companies.

Despite this growth, private hospitals continue to face financial strain, with the gap between revenue and costs narrowing to a mere 0.8% in 2021-22. Concerns loom over a potential worsening of this situation, hinting at an impending crisis for these institutions.

APHA President Christine Gee will outline the many activities APHA has undertaken on the sector’s behalf, followed by a scene setting session where key health leaders outline their view of the state of the health sector. Additionally, presentations from EY and Queensland Health will shed light on the factors impacting financial sustainability in the sector and the public sector’s perspective on private hospitals.

Ms Gee said “In the session on challenges and how to tackle them we look outside the private hospital sector to discuss issues other sectors have faced, how they have addressed them and come through the other side, while on Friday the APHA Congress will hear from private health insurers on their view of the future of private health care.

“Also on Friday, APHA Congress will examine the issues of digital transformation and hear a first-hand account of managing a data breach.”

Mr Roff emphasised the comprehensive nature of the program, aimed at stimulating productive conversations and offering practical solutions for hospital executives amidst their myriad responsibilities.

“The program is jam packed. Hospital executives have a lot on their plates at the moment and the APHA Congress aims to stimulate conversations and discussions that we hope will lead to some solutions for the sector and provide opportunities for those vital conversations with colleagues,” he told Health Industry Hub.

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