For journalists and others who might be interested in digging further into these issues, Carol Bennett, Executive Director of the Consumers Health Forum, has identified some useful new resources.
Carol Bennett writes:
Few Australians go through life without coming into contact with the pathology industry, the majority of whose services are funded by the Commonwealth Government.
In 2009/10 an estimated 105 million tests were conducted, growing by an average of 6.3% per annum in the previous five years. The majority of that money goes to just five major pathology practices.
Pathology testing can include the testing of blood, body tissues and bodily fluids, which are then analysed to identify diseases and their causes, assess disease severity and monitor disease progress over time. It can also involve genetic testing. Approximately 40 percent of pathology testing in Australia is for diagnostic purposes, 40 percent for monitoring and 20 percent for preventative purposes. The testing process also includes the provision of reports to assist in the diagnosis and management of disease.
Two recent reports shed some light into the pathology industry.
The Consumers Health Forum (CHF) recently undertook a major study on behalf of the Department of Health, into how health consumers see the pathology sector and what they think can be done to improve the way it operates.
Two key issues identified by consumers were the importance of improving consumer health literacy, and the need for more and better information to be communicated to consumers prior to testing.
The full report can be found here: https://www.chf.org.au/pdfs/chf/CHF%20Final%20Quality%20Use%20of%20Pathology%20Report.pdf
Further details on how the industry operates can be found in this Price Waterhouse-Coopers’ report, commissioned by DOHA, into capital expenditure in the pathology sector. http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/20CBB30C457BEB1DCA2576D300822677/$File/PWC%20Final%20Report%2021%20September%202010.pdf
If any readers would like to see an investigation into pathology-related issues, perhaps you’d like to consider pitching it to YouCommNews, a new initiative to enable community commissioning and funding of worthwhile stories….