ENHANCING PATIENT ACCESS

Macquarie University Hospital participates in a new program to develop innovation in health care delivery.

 

In February 2017, Jenny Sheehan became the first patient to undergo major surgery at Macquarie University Hospital through a new Access Program – a model akin to a pro bono scheme.

The program aims to provide reduced-cost procedures to patients who otherwise could not afford them, with the cost reduction funded by the participating surgeon or hospital.

The brainchild of Head of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at MQ Health, Professor Anand Deva, the Access program is offered by MQ in collaboration with Integrated Specialist Health Care Education and Research Foundation (ISHCERF) – a not for profit organisation committed to developing innovation in health care.

ISHCERF has launched a number of initiatives in integrated care over the past year and now partners with MQ Health in delivering the Access program. The program will be unique to the private hospital sector, where financial models allow flexibility to accommodate patients at a reduced cost.

“An overburdened public system, under significant funding pressure, along with increasing out of pocket costs passed on to patients event with private health insurance have meant that a large number of Australians are struggling financially to be able to access the treatment they require”. said Professor Deva.

“This is particularly true for people who need either certain innovative or unusual surgeries that public hospitals cannot offer, or for those who might need a specialised procedure only available at an advanced private facility – such as Macquarie University Hospital”.

Jenny was selected for the Access program because she presents such a case. After weighing 216 kilograms ten years ago, through a combination of bariatric surgery, exercise and diet, she now weights just 81 kilograms.

The loss of 134 kilograms has resulted in an excessive amount of loose skin, which is causing ongoing health problems.

Professor Deva says that the three part procedure of body contouring was the only solution that Jenny had to remove the excess skin. However, the procedure is not available to her through the public health system and she cannot afford the cost of private health care.

“Jenny’s case in indicative of thousands of Australians who will, ultimately, cost the government more through unaddressed health conditions, said Professor Deva. “For others, increasing demand and fiscal pressure on public hospitals has resulted in longer waiting times, thereby worsening their burden of disease and in some cases worsening their prognosis”.

“Australia clearly needs new paradigms for delivering health care. What the Access program aims to do is to alleviate current stresses on the system by the private health sector offering a limited number of affordable procedures every year for patients who have gone through a selection process based on appropriate criteria”.

“The role of the ISHCERF is to provide bridging funds for specific cases and to negotiate with private hospital providers to allow patients to be treated at reduced or no cost. We are very pleased to be working in corroboration with MQ Health on this initiative and having Macquarie University Hospital as our first participating private hospital”, Professor Deva explained.