Little information on health service quality and patient safety is publicly available. As well, reporting standards and measures differ across states and territories, and between the private and public sectors. Consumers, carers and patients find such information difficult to interpret and often not relevant to their needs.
In 2018–19, at the request of the COAG Health Council, the Commission identified options to align public reporting standards for safety and quality of health care across public and private hospitals nationally. This involved an environmental scan and literature review, and expert interviews and focus groups of clinicians and consumers. The process was guided by a steering committee of consumer and carer representatives, clinical experts, representatives from state and territory health departments, and representatives of the private sector and private health insurance sector.
In 2019–20, the Commission submitted an options paper on aligning reporting on quality health care and patient safety to the COAG Health Council. The Commission recommended implementation of a simple national reporting framework for safety and quality, with the information accessible through a national portal. The framework will initially focus on five aspects of safety and quality in health care across public and private hospitals: the NSQHS Standards, patient outcomes, adverse events, patient-reported measures and patient safety culture.
This work is reinforced by the Commission’s focus on patient safety measurement and learning. The COAG Health Council endorsed the Commission’s recommended approach in March 2020, and the Commission has continued to progress this work.