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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

Over two-thirds of Aussies missing healthcare appointments

Health Industry Hub | May 3, 2024 |

Pharma News: Over 70% of Australians have postponed or cancelled healthcare appointments in the last 12 months.

The primary reason behind this trend is the increasing cost of living, driving patients to delay routine check-ups and avoid specialist consultations even after being referred by a general practitioner. Notably, this behaviour is particularly prominent among Gen X individuals aged 44 to 59, 40% of whom are highly conscious of costs, according to a new report.*

The federal government last year announced it would triple the incentives paid to doctors who bulk-bill children under the age of 16, pensioners and Commonwealth concession card holders. However, the scheme excluded a large cohort of people struggling with cost-of-living pressures.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics found more than 1.2 million people did not go to a GP in 2022-23 because of cost-related concerns, more than double the previous years’ figures. People aged 25-34 years old were among the most likely to delay or avoid a GP consultation.

Commenting on the findings, CommBank Health CEO Albert Naffah said that issues finding suitable, affordable care were being felt differently across the population, with opportunities for healthcare providers to respond to changing preferences.

Two-thirds of patients (65%) faced issues with payments and claims, with one in three experiencing “bill shock” from unexpected charges, according to the report. Complicated Medicare rebates and health insurance claims, along with delays in reimbursements, further compound these challenges for about one in five individuals. This is contributing to an expectation for on-the-spot claims processing among 78% of patients who are looking for certainty and a seamless experience when engaging with healthcare providers.

“Affordability concerns and cost-cutting among patients are bringing technology and healthcare payments into greater focus with opportunities for providers to adapt to changing patient preferences.

“We’re seeing Australians wanting to engage with providers and take more control over their own health. But many are running into obstacles navigating the complexity of the healthcare system, particularly as their expectations of the non-clinical side of healthcare are increasingly informed by how easy today’s technology has made it to order a ride or meal or track a package. This has spurred consumer support for initiatives that enable more convenient and personalised care,” Naffah commented.

He emphasised the increasing role of technology in healthcare, driven by patients’ desire for more control over their health.

“Among healthcare providers leading the adoption of digital solutions, we’re seeing new applications of existing technology, such as SMS to manage appointments, as well as testing of emerging technology, including artificial intelligence where appropriate, to respond to patients’ needs. These features are no longer nice-to-have but an expectation among most patients,” he commented.

Moreover, the report revealed a shift towards preventive healthcare, with 39% of Australians embracing healthier lifestyles to reduce the need for consultations. This trend is particularly noticeable among Gen X, with 43% actively pursuing healthier habits.

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*CommBank Patient Experience Insights report


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