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Health equity, value-based health care and COVID-19

Welcome to the May 2020 issue of The Health

Health statistics tell a different story, however.

Advocate. Since our last issue, a lot has happened—

Some Australians, including Aboriginal and Torres

to say the very least. We, and the world, are now

Strait Islander people, people on low incomes and

living through the greatest challenge to our health

people living in rural areas have worse health and

for more than a century.

less access to healthcare services. 

It’s often said that times of crisis, like the current COVID-19 pandemic, reveal the weaknesses in our current systems—we are presented with

The impact of health inequities has been starkly highlighted with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. People with chronic disease, experiencing

opportunities to learn and adapt so we are better

homelessness or sudden income loss, or who are

prepared next time, and not only for pandemics.

living in remote communities are all at greater risk,

Crises can also embolden governments to act

not only of COVID-19, but also potentially of poorer

quickly and decisively—as the Australian Government

long-term health as their living circumstances

has with the expansion of access to telehealth

deteriorate as a result of economic downturn.

services, expanding the roles of nurses and other

Our health system will inevitably undergo major

health professionals, and brokering a deal with

adjustments once the initial emergency response

private hospitals to join public hospitals in the

to COVID-19 has passed—but the changes being

COVID-19 fight.

made now, such as reforms to telehealth services

On the other hand, some weaknesses remain that we have known about, talked about and advocated about for some time, but to date are still in the ‘too hard’ basket. I would place equity and value in health in that basket. Universal healthcare, through Medicare, is a much-loved feature of our Australian way of life.

and workforce roles, have the potential to support greater equity and value in the longer term. In a recent Deeble Institute Issues Brief, Can value-based health care support health equity?, we explored equity in the context of value-based health care strategies and health care reforms currently being implemented or considered in Australia. We recommended factoring the social determinants

It’s built on equity principles—every Australian having

of health, such as housing, income and employment

equal access to quality healthcare based on medical

into our health policy decisions.

need, not the size of their wallets. 4

The Health Advocate • MAY 2020

We suggested renewed efforts to break

Profile for Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association

The Health Advocate - May 2020  

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