Third Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation

13 Dec 2018

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, welcomed the launch of the Third Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation this week as a tool that has the potential to lead to improvements in clinical decision-making and the allocation of medical services, but cautioned that it does not explain causes of health issues.

“The reasons for any observed variation in health service utilisation reflect regional differences in people’s health care needs, variation in the patient’s treatment preferences, or other factors that require further examination,” Dr Bartone said.

“Some variation in patterns of health care utilisation should be expected.

“Once any variation is identified, the next step is identifying good variation from bad variation, and investigating the cause.

“It is very important for policymakers to be clear what the Atlas data is and isn’t. It is good at highlighting variation in health utilisation at the regional level, but it is not good at explaining why.

“The Atlas must be considered a statistical guide only, and is definitely no substitute for clinical experience and expertise."

The Atlas was compiled by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care in consultation with key stakeholders, experts and public and private representatives across Australia.