The biggest health clubs in Australia are getting into private ownership as they struggle to meet consumer demand for specialist care, according to a new study.
Key points:Key pointsThe study of more than 600 health clubs across Australia found some are struggling to meet the demand for careThe study found some were struggling to keep up with new entrants and that the system needed to change”The Australian Health Care System (AHCS) is facing significant challenges to meet demand, particularly for specialist and urgent care services,” said Dr David Hynes from the University of Adelaide.
“It is a system that has been built to be managed by the private sector and has a proven track record of delivering quality outcomes, including a number of major events including the Commonwealth Games, the Commonwealth Finals, and the Olympics.”
However, there is a fundamental difference between a private health club and a public health club.
“The AHCS has seen a rapid expansion in recent years, and as a result, a number clubs have had to start private operations.”
In the last five years the AHCs private system has expanded from an average of 6 to almost 15,000 people a year, with many of these individuals living in the most disadvantaged communities,” Dr Hynes said.”
As the number of people in need of urgent and specialist care has risen dramatically, there has been a huge demand for health services in the private health system, and there is growing demand for the AHA to provide them with the same services.
“What is a health club?
In Australia, there are about 1,000 health clubs and about 50,000 registered members.
They are registered as private businesses, meaning they have a commercial licence and a commercial purpose.
While some health clubs are part-owned by private companies, most are managed by a community council or the AHBs Board of Directors.
Dr Hynes has been working with a number health clubs to understand the problems that they are facing.”
These are community based organisations that operate in areas that are historically under-served,” Dr Siewert said.”[These] organisations have access to a wider range of health services that are in many cases far cheaper than the most expensive hospital care, so they can deliver a greater degree of care.
“They are also providing a much higher level of quality care in many of the most vulnerable communities, where people are more likely to be affected by the diseases that they can access.”
In many of those communities, there’s also an increasing need for community services and services that do not necessarily come with a commercial value, such as health education, health promotion and mental health support.
Dr SiewERT has been monitoring these issues.
“I’m hoping to get a better understanding of the health clubs that are most impacted by these issues and the solutions that they may be able to adopt,” she said.