Last week saw the release of the first Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation.

The Atlas reports substantial variation in healthcare use across Australia, across areas such as antibiotic prescribing, surgical, mental health and diagnostic services.

The six chapters focus on:

  1. Antimicrobial dispensing
  2. Diagnostic interventions
  3. Surgical interventions
  4. Mental health and psychotropic medicines
  5. Opioid medicines
  6. Chronic diseases

By way of example, the diagnostic interventions chapter considers considers fibre optic colonoscopy and prostate biopsy.

The surgical interventions chapter considers knee arthroscopy, radical prostatectomy, cataract surgery, hysterectomy and for younger persons tonsillectomy and myringotomy.

Identified variations were sometimes significant – for cataract surgery as an example, the number of services was 7.2 times higher in the area with the highest rate compared to the area with the lowest rate.

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