The My Healthy Communities website has a new tool that allows users to build their own free, customised report for more than 100 measures of health.
The measures includes health issues such as as anxiety and depression, cardiovascular disease, arthritis or chronic back pain, obesity rates, childhood immunisation, life expectancy, avoidable hospitalisations and more.
The Healthy Communities website also includes latest data on how GPs in some parts of Australia can be markedly more or less likely to prescribe pharmaceuticals for some common health conditions compared with their counterparts in other areas of the country.
The report, which captures data from 2005 to 2013, shows that around half of the people (44% to 56%) who visited a GP once in a year had one or more chronic conditions such as back pain, high cholesterol, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, asthma and anxiety. People with these chronic conditions are high users of the health care system, comprising around 85% of the total burden of disease in Australia.
The latest data rovides insights into the geographic variation across local areas in the actions GPs take to manage some chronic conditions. The report shows from 2009 to 2013:
- The percentage of patients in big cities who were actively managed for anxiety or depression and received a prescription for psychotropic drugs (such as anti-depressants) ranged from 38% in Northern Sydney to 59% in Sydney North Shore & Beaches.
- Across regional and rural communities, this ranged from 57% in Barwon (Victoria) to 74% in Hume (Vic/NSW).
- GP referral to other health professionals ranged from 11% in Southern Adelaide-Fleurieu-Kangaroo Island and Central Adelaide & Hills to 21% in Eastern Sydney.
- The percentage of patients who were actively managed for selected cardiovascular risk conditions and prescribed statins ranged from 26% in South Eastern Melbourne and Sunshine Coast (Queensland) to 40% in Eastern Sydney and Central Queensland.
- GP referral to other health professionals ranged from 4% in Northern Melbourne, Bayside (Victoria) and Central Qld to 11% in Nepean-Blue Mountains (NSW).
- The percentage of patients who were actively managed for arthritis or chronic back pain and prescribed medications ranged from 52% in Northern Sydney to 75% in Nepean-Blue Mountains (NSW).
- Ordering of imaging by GPs ranged from 8% in North Coast NSW, Macedon Ranges (Victoria) and North Western Melbourne and Northern Adelaide to 20% in Central Coast (NSW).
National Health Performance Authority CEO Dr Diane Watson said the variation revealed showcases the diverse approaches GPs used to manage chronic conditions in local areas across Australia.
There are many factors that GPs consider when deciding what management for patients is appropriate, and the report makes no suggestion that higher or lower rates of prescribing medications, providing referrals or other actions is more or less appropriate.
“This latest report offers new information that can provide a starting point for health care professionals to better learn about optimal approaches to care for their community’s needs,” Dr Watson said.
It is also another step towards revealing different approaches to chronic care management and encourages Australia’s research community to tease out the impact of these local approaches on patient outcomes to inform efforts to increase the productivity and performance of Australia’s health system.
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To access the new MyReport function and obtain your free report, visit www.myhealthycommunities.gov.au