A report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has indicated patients with a usual general practitioner report better information sharing between providers.

The study found people with no usual GP were three times as likely as those who had one to report that their usual place of care did not seem informed about their most recent specialist visit.

More than a third (36%) of patients with no usual GP or place of care said they felt that they did not have a health professional with a good understanding of their health-care needs and preferences, compared with 6% of those with a usual GP and place of care.

The good news was that the vast majority (92%) of patients said that they received enough information they needed about their care or treatment, and almost all (98%) reported that their usual GP or others in their usual place of care seemed aware of their health-care history.

The report used results from the 2016 Survey of Health Care to examine patients' experiences when sharing of health information – also known as information continuity – between GPs and other health-care providers like hospitals and specialists. 

"They were also twice as likely to report that their usual place of care did not seem informed about their follow-up needs or medication changes following a visit to the emergency department," AIHW spokesperson Richard Juckes said in a statement.

The study also revealed that patients who live in major cities, inner regional areas and outer regional areas had on average better experiences than those living in remote or very remote areas.

Of people living in "Remote/Very remote" areas, 13% reported they did not receive enough information about care or treatment, compared with just eight% of patients living in major cities.

When it comes to sharing of information, there was room for improvement regarding the availability and completeness of documentation and information transfer between providers.

Nearly a tenth of patients who saw a specialist reported that there was at least one time when their specialist did not have their medical information or test results.

"The sharing of health information between health professionals and across care settings is an essential component of health-care management and continuity of care," Juckes continued.

He noted that having access to complete information about a patient's health history enables providers to deliver care that is "appropriate, current, and meets a patient's needs".





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