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BMC Health Services Research

, 17:391

Health policy, reform, governance and law


BackgroundPublic reporting of government funded public hospital performance data was mandated in Australia in 2011. Studies suggest some benefit associated with such public reporting, but also considerable scope to improve reporting systems.

MethodsIn 2015, a purposive sample of 41 expert informants were interviewed, representing consumer, provider and purchasers perspectives across Australia’s public and private health sectors, to ascertain expert opinion on the utility and impact of public reporting of health service performance. Qualitative data was thematically analysed with a focus on reporting perceived strengths and barriers to public reporting of hospital performance data PR.

ResultsMany more weaknesses and barriers to PR were identified than strengths. Barriers were: conceptual unclear objective, audience and reporting framework; systems-level including lack of consumer choice, lack of consumer and clinician involvement, jurisdictional barriers, lack of mandate for private sector reporting; technical and resource related including data complexity, lack of data relevance consistency, rigour; and socio-cultural including provider resistance to public reporting, poor consumer health literacy, lack of consumer empowerment.

ConclusionsPerceptions of the Australian experience of PR highlight important issues in its implementation that can provide lessons for Australia and elsewhere. A considerable weakness of PR in Australia is that the public are often not considered its major audience, resulting in information ineffectually framed to meet the objective of PR informing consumer decision-making about treatment options. Greater alignment is needed between the primary objective of PR, its audience and audience needs; more than one system of PR might be necessary to meet different audience needs and objectives. Further research is required to assess objectively the potency of the barriers to PR suggested by our panel of informants.

KeywordsAccountability Australia Consumer Decision-making Hospital performance Public reporting Qualitative data Quality improvement AbbreviationsAIHWAustralian Institute of Health and Welfare

GPGeneral medical practitioner family physician

NHPANational Health Performance Authority

PRPublic reporting of hospital performance data

USAUnited States of America

Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article doi:10.1186-s12913-017-2336-7 contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Autor: Rachel Canaway - Marie Bismark - David Dunt - Margaret Kelaher


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