Australian healthcare is a national treasure: adopting digital systems will improve both customer and provider experience

As maligned as it may seem at times, Australia’s healthcare system is actually a national treasure.

We lead the world in many social, medical and technological innovations, including NDIS and digitized claims. Australia ranks very well compared to other developed countries with an enviable system of universal health care supplemented by privatized health care.

Australian healthcare is among the most accessible and affordable in the world. That said, we can still do better.

Most Australians are happy with the existing healthcare system – 83% are happy with the availability of quality healthcare. However, certain factors threaten to affect patient satisfaction.

CommBank Health commissioned KPMG to undertake qualitative and quantitative research to identify potential areas of friction in the healthcare customer experience and inefficiencies in healthcare provider administrative processes. Research in this report reveals how digital technology in three key areas can transform healthcare processes, including eliminating direct and indirect costs stemming from manual reservation systems.

Digitization and automation of reservations and administration

Digitization and automation have the power to drastically reduce the time, cost and labor spent on the administration and manual processing of claims and payments, especially in primary health care and services referred doctors.

Consumers agree that fully digital processes make it easier and faster for them to book, claim and pay for appointments. Many say they would consider switching providers if they offered better service, and these sentiments could spur greater adoption of digital solutions by healthcare providers.

An integrated consumer journey

Data integration and sharing could underpin more connected and personalized experiences while giving patients greater control and visibility over their health information. Around 60% of consumers who searched around 300 million general practitioners, allied health and dental services were required to provide information about their health upon arrival and departure from their health care provider. A more integrated system means that practitioners could devote more of their scarce resources to administering clinical care and less to managing paperwork.

The surprise bill is a worrying reality for nearly half of the consumers surveyed. Gaps in their knowledge of what is covered by Medicare and/or their private health insurer led to more than half of consumers not knowing how much their visit or procedure will cost. This leaves the administrative staff explaining the situation to a potentially disgruntled consumer, which means they have to get to grips with the wide variety of issues with private health funds. All of this puts pressure on an already strained workforce. An easy to navigate system with price transparency would greatly improve the customer experience.

Many consumers forget to bring their health insurance card or private health insurance card when requesting health services, which in 13% of visits results in an inability to process requests on the spot. Additionally, patient no-shows lead to lost productivity, with approximately 25% of consumers reporting that they forgot to attend one or more appointments in the past. This could be greatly reduced by using the functions of the booking system with automated appointment reminders.

Use contemporary technology to avoid legacy limitations

Building trust with patients through better informed and more transparent processes, and facilitating access to health services are benefits that benefit governments and private health insurers. Integrating existing booking, claims and payment processes into a single system will enable a more seamless customer experience while reducing supplier booking, administration and record keeping overhead. A win-win for everyone.

Read the Healthy Options Report