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author:("eager, Kathy")
1.  Referral patterns and proximity to palliative care inpatient services by level of socio-economic disadvantage. A national study using spatial analysis 
Background
A range of health outcomes at a population level are related to differences in levels of social disadvantage. Understanding the impact of any such differences in palliative care is important. The aim of this study was to assess, by level of socio-economic disadvantage, referral patterns to specialist palliative care and proximity to inpatient services.
Methods
All inpatient and community palliative care services nationally were geocoded (using postcode) to one nationally standardised measure of socio-economic deprivation – Socio-Economic Index for Areas (SEIFA; 2006 census data). Referral to palliative care services and characteristics of referrals were described through data collected routinely at clinical encounters. Inpatient location was measured from each person’s home postcode, and stratified by socio-economic disadvantage.
Results
This study covered July – December 2009 with data from 10,064 patients. People from the highest SEIFA group (least disadvantaged) were significantly less likely to be referred to a specialist palliative care service, likely to be referred closer to death and to have more episodes of inpatient care for longer time. Physical proximity of a person’s home to inpatient care showed a gradient with increasing distance by decreasing levels of socio-economic advantage.
Conclusion
These data suggest that a simple relationship of low socioeconomic status and poor access to a referral-based specialty such as palliative care does not exist. Different patterns of referral and hence different patterns of care emerge.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-424
PMCID: PMC3529682  PMID: 23176397
Palliative care; Socio-economic disadvantage; Service planning; Referral patterns
2.  Determining level of care appropriateness in the patient journey from acute care to rehabilitation 
Background
The selection of patients for rehabilitation, and the timing of transfer from acute care, are important clinical decisions that impact on care quality and patient flow. This paper reports utilization review data on inpatients in acute care with stroke, hip fracture or elective joint replacement, and other inpatients referred for rehabilitation. It examines reasons why acute level of care criteria are not met and explores differences in decision making between acute care and rehabilitation teams around patient appropriateness and readiness for transfer.
Methods
Cohort study of patients in a large acute referral hospital in Australia followed with the InterQual utilization review tool, modified to also include reasons why utilization criteria are not met. Additional data on team decision making about appropriateness for rehabilitation, and readiness for transfer, were collected on a subset of patients.
Results
There were 696 episodes of care (7189 bed days). Days meeting acute level of care criteria were 56% (stroke, hip fracture and joint replacement patients) and 33% (other patients, from the time of referral). Most inappropriate days in acute care were due to delays in processes/scheduling (45%) or being more appropriate for rehabilitation or lower level of care (30%).
On the subset of patients, the acute care team and the utilization review tool deemed patients ready for rehabilitation transfer earlier than the rehabilitation team (means of 1.4, 1.3 and 4.0 days from the date of referral, respectively). From when deemed medically stable for transfer by the acute care team, 28% of patients became unstable. From when deemed stable by the rehabilitation team or utilization review, 9% and 11%, respectively, became unstable.
Conclusions
A high proportion of patient days did not meet acute level of care criteria, due predominantly to inefficiencies in care processes, or to patients being more appropriate for an alternative level of care, including rehabilitation. The rehabilitation team was the most accurate in determining ongoing medical stability, but at the cost of a longer acute stay.
To avoid inpatients remaining in acute care in a state of 'terra nullius', clinical models which provide rehabilitation within acute care, and more efficient movement to a rehabilitation setting, is required. Utilization review could have a decision support role in the determination of medical stability.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-291
PMCID: PMC3212985  PMID: 22040281
acute care; subacute care; rehabilitation; utilization review; casemix; patient selection; InterQual
3.  Determining appropriateness for rehabilitation or other subacute care: is there a role for utilisation review? 
Background
Rehabilitation and other forms of subacute care play an important role in the Australian health care system, yet there is ambiguity around clinical definitions of subacute care, how it differs from acute care, where it is best done and what resources are required. This leads to inconsistent and often poorly defined patient selection criteria as well as a lack of research into efficient models of care.
Methods
A literature review on the potential role of utilisation review in defining levels of care and in facilitating appropriate care, with a focus on the interface between acute care and rehabilitation.
Results
In studies using standardised utilisation review tools there is consistent reporting of high levels of 'inappropriate' bed days in acute care settings. These inappropriate bed days include both inappropriate admissions to acute care and inappropriate continuing days of stay. While predominantly an instrument of payers in the United States, concurrent utilisation review programs have also been used outside of the US, where they help in the facilitation of appropriate care. Some utilisation review tools also have specific criteria for determining patient appropriateness for rehabilitation and other subacute care.
Conclusion
The high levels of 'inappropriate' care demonstrated repeatedly in international studies using formal programs of utilisation review should not be ignored in Australia. Utilisation review tools, while predominantly developed in the US, may complement other Australian patient flow initiatives to improve efficiency while maintaining patient safety. They could also play a role in the identification of patients who may benefit from transfer from acute care to another type of care and thus be an adjunct to physician assessment. Testing of the available utilisation review tools in the Australian context is now required.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-4-3
PMCID: PMC1839097  PMID: 17352832
4.  (Re)form with Substance? Restructuring and governance in the Australian health system 2004/05 
The Australian health system has been the subject of multiple reviews and reorganisations over the last twenty years or more. The year 2004–2005 was no different.
This paper reviews the reforms, (re)structures and governance arrangements in place at both the national and state/territory levels in the last year. At the national level some progress has been made in 2004/05 through the Australian Health Ministers' Council and there is now a national health reform agenda, albeit not a comprehensive one, endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in June 2005. Quality and safety was an increasing focus in 2004–2005 at both the national and jurisdictional levels, as was the need for workforce reform. Although renewed policy attention was given to the need to better integrate and coordinate health care, there is little evidence of any real progress this last year. More progress was made on a national approach to workforce reform.
At the jurisdictional level, the usual rounds of reviews and restructuring occurred in several jurisdictions and, in 2005, they are organisationally very different from each other. The structure and effectiveness of jurisdictional health authorities are now more important. All health authorities are being expected to drive an ambitious set of national and local reforms. At the same time, most have now blurred the boundary between policy and service delivery and are devoting significant resources to centrally 'crisis managing' their service systems. These same reasons led to decentralisation in previous restructuring cycles. While there were many changes in 2004–2005, and a new national report to COAG on health reform is expected at the end of 2005, based on current evidence there is little room for optimism about the prospects for real progress.
doi:10.1186/1743-8462-2-19
PMCID: PMC1208850  PMID: 16120207

Results 1-4 (4)