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New study compares quality of hospital service

Health services for chest pain sufferers will be compared at South Australian hospitals.
Photo from Flicker.

Health services for chest pain sufferers will be compared at South Australian hospitals.
Photo from Flicker.

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Monday, 16 April 2012

Health services for chest pain sufferers will be compared at South Australia's main public hospitals, as part of a new study aimed at improving the overall quality and effectiveness of hospital service Australia-wide.

The study, being led by the University of Adelaide, has won more than $300,000 in funding from the HCF Health and Medical Research Foundation. It's one of six new health projects across Australia announced today by HCF.

Study leader Professor Jon Karnon, a health economist from the University of Adelaide's Discipline of Public Health (School of Population Health and Clinical Practice), says some hospitals achieve better outcomes at lower cost for specific conditions, such as patients who have chest pain.

"There's good evidence to suggest that there is variation in the quality of health services provided by different hospitals. This has a significant impact on patient outcomes and health service costs," Professor Karnon says.

"We've developed a method to compare the costs and effectiveness of patient care. This will enable us to see which hospitals are performing better - both for patient outcomes and cost of service - than others.

"Ultimately, our study is aimed at identifying why some hospitals perform better than others, and using that information to help the under-performing hospitals to improve their service, with benefits for both patients and the taxpayer," he says.

Professor Karnon will use chest pain patients as a case study, comparing the process of treating these patients at of the four main public hospitals in South Australia - Royal Adelaide Hospital, Flinders Medical Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Lyell McEwin Hospital - as well as at a key private hospital, St Andrews.

"What we hope to achieve is a clear understanding of best practice that can be applied to all hospitals," Professor Karnon says.

"Health services are extremely costly to deliver, and they can come at a human cost if those services are not delivered in the best possible way. This study addresses both of those key issues.

"We expect our findings will be applicable to hospitals around Australia and could spark further research into other areas of patient care," he says.

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