Diagnosis and prognosis of Australia's health information for evidence-based policy

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Health Services Research and Policy, 2002, 7 (SUPPL. 1), pp. 40 - 45
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Without adequate information it is difficult to determine the success or failure of health policies. This paper assesses the adequacy of Australia's health information for evidence-based policy. Three policy areas are analyzed: the impact of changing the public and private health financing mix; waiting lists and waiting times; and pooling of funds. In each, the issue is analyzed to identify the key policy questions, the available data and existing analyses are examined, and gaps in data availability and analysis are assessed. There is variability in the extent and usefulness of current health information. In terms of the impact of changing the financing mix, there is good information on the distribution of finance, but much less available on comparative use or efficiency of public and private hospitals. There is comprehensive information available on waiting lists and waiting times but little analysis of the implications of this for equity of access or the costs and benefits of reducing waiting times. There is insufficient information for the development of the capitation based formulae required for the introduction of the pooling of funds, nor enough information to assess the extent and impact of current cost-shifting which might be addressed by pooling funds. While the concept of evidence-based medicine has been embraced with regard to specific treatment decisions, there has not been a parallel investment in the use of evidence to drive policy decisions. © The Royal Society of Medicine Press Ltd 2002.
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