Access and Equity are terms often bandied about with little or no real substance. What does it really mean and how does it apply to healthcare services? We all agree that Australia’s healthcare system rank as one of the best in the developed world, even though many aspects can be improved on. Healthcare is always on the political agenda and accessing these services is still a source of frustration for many Australians.
Practicing dentistry for 10 years has given me a good insight into the frustration that many people encounter when trying to access healthcare services as well as the inequality between the level of service offered across Australia. Metropolitan localities are often heavily serviced whilst more rural and remote areas struggle to find appropriate healthcare services.
There are many aspect of Australian healthcare that could be improved and sometimes the enormity of the project can be daunting. Quoting Confuscius “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” and the first step to a better healthcare system is improving access to it.
It sounds simple, improve access and make it easy for people to find help when they need it, this means people get treated early and are less likely to suffer further complications from their illness/injury. In reality this process is much more involved and requires collaboration from all parties, healthcare practitioners need to be more transparent with their available services, people need to be able to find these services easily and to achieve these things a system must exist to link healthcare practitioners to their patients.
For decades we have been using the telephone as this link, like many things in today’s society this is rapidly becoming obsolete. Any practicing healthcare provider and their front desk personnel knows to dread the answering machine and phone every Monday morning, even worse the Tuesday morning following a long weekend!. The internet is the likely answer, a Google search is much quicker than picking up the phone book, but you still need to ring the practice to access their availability. Wouldn’t it be great to have a system that exposes available appointments but only those that match a person’s needs so they could access them?
Dr Rick Luu, CEO & Founder