Publicly Funded Health Care System

For Assignment 1 are required to complete a SWOT analysis of the Australian Health care System in terms of its ability to deliver universal health care and positive health outcomes. Your final submission should include a completed SWOT grid (a summary of your analysis) as well as a 2000 word report of your SWOT analysis.

 

 

Healthcare SWOT

 

Introduction:

The WHO approved Universal health coverage includes quality and effective health services considering three major objectives. The health objectives cover equal access to the services, standard health services, and cost-effective health services for all the people around the globe. In this context, the strategic planning is highly significant as different states have different healthcare issues related to social, political, economic, legal and geographic dimensions. The most effective strategic planning can consider SWOT analysis to identify internal and external issues. The internal issues are identified by the first two elements of the SWOT grid while the remaining two elements identify the external issues. A successful SWOT analysis provides specific, objective, realistic information comparing related data for new planning and goals. In this paper, the SWOT analysis identifies the strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats of Australian healthcare covering the medical and pharmaceutical industries. 
SWOT analysis table on Australian Healthcare System:

Strengths:

?    The Medicare system of Australia with Cent relink and child support program integration and service delivery objectives like easier health service and government coordination, effective and efficient service delivery 
?    The PBS scheme with the safety net and standard medicine coverage features    Weakness:
?    Medicare structure is asymmetric and covers limited services excluding GPs
?    The Medicare budget is directly affecting the government processing
?    High technical dependence on medical management and diagnostic services are increasing costs
?    The rural areas have limited medical service access while rapid urbanization is increasing food access, mental illness, and asthma issues
 

Opportunities:

?    Utilizing the medical export components
?    Integrating technology, research, and tourism
?    Correcting the major gaps in Medicare    Threats:
?    The funding confusion between public and private medical sectors
?    The medical research is facing infrastructure, funding, measurement and integration difficulties
?    The value management system is not well distributed and effective
?    There are conflicts between urbanization and rural structure

Strengths:

According to SWOT, the element strength identifies the capabilities and resources to improve the competence level of any industry. Therefore, strength can include new service, cost advantage element, cultural connection, reputation as well as any special expertise and geographical advantage. 

Medicare:

In case of healthcare, Australia has constructed a publicly funded health care system which is known as Medicare according to the universal access objective of WHO. All the Australian people have equal and standard access to the elements of this system. The elements include healthcare professionals like doctors, medical specialists as well as free treatments in the public hospitals. Moreover, the Australian people can choose public health insurance schemes according to their need and the different insurance schemes include private hospital, dental as well as specialized experts. The structure of the health system is well distributed among federal, state and territory governments (Medicare, 2018). Furthermore, the Medicare has high global brand reputation due to information of high life expectancy, low infant mortality and other quality services. According to human service portfolio of Medicare (Australia) the structure follows Australian health service act, child support act, Commonwealth service delivery act and Medicare Australia act to maintain the quality of the healthcare services. According to the medical survey reports of WHO older populations are more prone to the chronic illness and degenerative issues and Medicare has prioritized the issue in their healthcare services. 

Furthermore, the organization is integrated with Cent relink which is a social security service for unemployed, retirees, indigenous people of Australia. The Australian healthcare sector provides more than 50 co-located service offices covering the features of Medicare, Cent relink and child support services (Medicare, 2018). According to the Australian government portal, more than 50,000 customers use online human service structure with single login ID and password for the integrated services of Medicare, Centrelink, and child support. The Medicare also uses service delivery reform programs covering components like budget, customer services, and HS portfolio business etc. 

PBS:

Another strength factor of Australian healthcare service is pharmaceutical benefits scheme. The 
The program serves Australian residents with subsidized prescription medication. The same facilities are applicable for some foreign visitors of Australia who use reciprocal healthcare agreements. Following the National healthcare act 1953, the program provides standard medicines to cover 90% of the general medicine demand of Australia (Van Durme et al., 2014). Moreover, the utilized medicines are all under a unique payment structure. Apart from patients cost the rest of the cost is the responsibility of the Medicare according to the agreement between Medicare and the pharmacy. The pharmacy services include wholesale products, retail services, and business advisory programs putting a good grip on the industry. 
 

Weakness:

According to SWOT, the weaknesses are the major issues which are needed to be improved. Therefore, these internal factors can include marketing plan issue, negative reputation, service area gaps, technology issues as well as geographical and service line difficulties. 
Although the Medicare provides huge benefits to the Australian residents but still there are some weak points. They are discussed below:
Medicare structure and cost:
First of all, the Medicare has a fragmented funding model which means their information symmetry issues and health care coordination issues. Moreover, the structure of Medicare is restricted to special kinds of health services and in some cases the subsidiaries are absent. The cases include all GP and certain medical treatments.
Demographic issues:
As the Australian healthcare sector majorly focuses on the health of the aged population, therefore, budget tightening in the situation of high medical costs are directly affecting the Australian government. According to the report of WHO, more than 21% of the residential Australians will reach the age 65 by the year 2053(J, 2018). That means the highly successful Medicare is becoming a major weak point in the context of business and costing. The forcing nature of medical subsidy and pressure of costly medical service providers are major weak points here.

Technical issues:

Although technical advancement has improved the medical services tremendously but it has some drawbacks too. In terms of diagnostics and medical service management, the diffusion of technology is rapidly increasing the costs directly pressurizing the government budget. Moreover, the high dependence on technology is making the non-technical health services obsolete while some non-technical medical services are still effective. 

Low coordination between rural and urban health services:
The definition of rural areas according to WHO determines the limitations of urban services and elements in those places. The Australian rural areas are still deficient to provide standard health care professionals and allied services while the urban areas are saturated with various medical services. Moreover, the medical practitioners are more prone to select urban areas for their work which is making the rural medical infrastructure unsatisfactory (J, 2018). Again, the urbanization in Australia is a rapid process which is directly affecting issues of fresh food access, high obesity, asthma, mental well-being etc.

Opportunities:
According to SWOT, it is the external factor which identifies the growth factors for any industry or service observing the new trends. Therefore, this external factor can include competitor weakness, demands of population profile, new market openings, emerging technologies etc.
 The opportunities of Australian healthcare segment is discussed below:

Economic growth opportunities:
If the Australian healthcare system is compared with other state-based healthcare systems then it is a high ranked healthcare system according to healthcare efficiency. This concept suggests that Australia has high potential to export the healthcare services directly helping the economic growth. The existing healthcare sector of Australia is already a high performing economic sector, therefore, expanding public-private partnerships the sector can balance the private health spending per capita domestically. The healthcare reviews have stated the significant amount of money wastage but medical tourism identifies the country as more demanding than Thailand and Singapore. Therefore, the equipment advantages like medical instruments, over the counter products can be the opportunities for the future (Bartlett et al., 2018). Moreover, combining government and private services to increase finance and educational services, telecommunication as well as R&D can be considered as major opportunities for Australian healthcare sector. The value management system of Australian healthcare should integrate the three factors supplier, caregivers and insurers to convert the opportunities into strengths.
Integrating technology, tourism, and e-health:

The healthcare sector is divided into private and public sectors where the first sector aims revenue generation and the second one focuses on product and system efficiency. Therefore, the major components like supplier, caregivers, insurers, and consumers have combined accordingly. In this context, the major opportunity components can be the enablers like education, IT and communication technology (Sarfo-Frimpong et al., 2017). These opportunities can attract both overseas students and clinics to participate in the revenue generation process of Australia. The increasing number of medical investments can decrease the government pressure and improve the research and development sector of Australia. In case of the private sector, the major opportunities include domestic investment and FDI in Biotechnology and medical research, offshore delivery models, insurance models and innovative prevention programs. The prevention and wellness programs directly indicate the medical tourism and high economic growth. In case of the public sector, the opportunities cover medical research commercialization, public hospital outsourcing, and the additional trading section of public health services and commercialization of public payment schemes. Furthermore, the technical advancement can promote the distance and remote learning section of medical infrastructure using telemedicine and telehealth components (Bartlett et al., 2018). As an example, the Australian telecom giant Telstra is providing domestic and overseas telehealth services using merging policies with companies like Med gate, Health Engine, Verdi etc.

Improving Medicare:
As the Medicare has already structured the major health service issues of Australia, therefore, improving the gaps in this system can be considered as growth opportunities. In this context, the service delivery reform structure of Medicare can be helpful.

Threats:
The Standard analytical tool SWOT defines Threats as the risky or uncertain issues which can break the normal flow of operations. Therefore threats can include competitor strengths, negative changes in regulations, insurance issues, economic shift, market demand and source issues etc.
In case of Australian healthcare sector the threats are discussed below:

Funding conflicts:

The medical sector of Australia has the unique feature of combining public and private sectors while private sector contributes more than 30% of medical expenditure. In this context, the emerging technology cost, the growth of aged population, complex disease management processes are aggravating the funding issues (J, 2018). The large budgetary pressure on government covers medical price mechanisms, GP surcharge which is intensifying the public funding limit in medical pressure.

Research sector issues:

With strong dynamics and strength factors, the global medical sector considers Australia as one of the top sources of medical research. However, from the domestic perspectives, the country still lacks primary infrastructure, cross-platform and stakeholder channels, integrated research plans and ad-hoc funding according to recent strategic objectives due to special attention to the public health system (Breen & Christensen, 2017). 

Health inequality related to equity:

Although the medical structure of Australia has provided results like prolonged life expectancy, lower mortality and standard disease management but the results are not same for all the groups of people (J, 2018). As an example, indigenous people need more attention while aged people already have high medical attention. The same situation also indicates equity issues due to insufficient cost structure.

Rapid cost increment:

The technical advancement has increased the overall healthcare cost which is going to be a major threat factor for a long time. Moreover, covering major medical expenses by the public healthcare system is increasing political and economic pressure on the government. The same is reflected in the medical tourism and telemarketing sections.
Intensive rural health issues:

The country has still not used any effective dispute resolution strategy for the rural issues. Therefore, the medical service deficiency is in the same position while affecting the channels of urbanization with socio-economic components. 

Conclusion:

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The Australian health service sector has all the resources to dominate the global medical structure. But the SWOT analysis has identified potential weak points and threats in the existing system. Although the medical structure is following the major healthcare objectives according to WHO but domestic issues of the country are increasing the risks. The major risks include the equity, research deficiency and impacts of rapid urbanization in the country but they can be resolved by the medical exporting opportunities. Therefore, Australia should promote the e-health and medical resources to improve the revenue generation process.

References

(Medicare, 2018). Humanservices.gov.au. from https://www.humanservices.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/medicare-australia-annual-report-2010-11-full-report.pdf
Bartlett, C., Rogan, C., & Butler, S. (2018). Australia's healthcare system: An opportunity for economic growth. Strategyand.pwc.com. from https://www.strategyand.pwc.com/reports/australias-healthcare-system
Breen, F., & Christensen, A. M. (2017). How do they know–how do we know? Using a SWOT analysis to support first year Medical Laboratory Science students transitioning to university. In STARS 2017 Conference Proceedings. unistars. org.
J, M. (2018). Australia's Health System: Some Issuesand Challenges. Health-medical-economics.imedpub.com. from http://health-medical-economics.imedpub.com/australias-health-system-some-issuesand-challenges.php?aid=8344
Sarfo-Frimpong, J., Oduro, G., Forson, P. K., & Bonney, J. (2017). Emerging Mobile Health (mHealth) in KATH ED: Assessing it’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT ANALYSIS) among Healthcare Workers. Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, 32(S1), S38-S38.
Van Durme, T., Macq, J., Anthierens, S., Symons, L., Schmitz, O., Paulus, D., ...&Remmen, R. (2014). Stakeholders’ perception on the organization of chronic care: a SWOT analysis to draft avenues for health care reforms. BMC health services research, 14(1), 179.

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