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Program to reduce hospital stress and confusion

A NEW support program launched by Medibank is helping its members better navigate the hospital system.

Recent research has revealed that patients are struggling with the hospital system, with some 28 per cent saying navigating it was even more confusing than buying a home.

The new program, ‘Hospital Assist’, is designed to help members feel more informed and at ease in the lead up to their hospital stay by providing personalised support when they need it most, at no extra cost.

According to the research – which surveyed Australians who’ve been to hospital in the past 12 months – nearly half of patients felt there’s not enough support provided to those going to hospital, causing unwanted stress, confusion, feelings of isolation, and even contributing to compromised mental and physical health.

Medibank Hospital Assist will bring together a range of new and existing services to form a comprehensive support program, including a health concierge phone service, a digital concierge for online assistance, and a 24/7 health advice phone line.

Also included is access to patient reported experience surveys, which provide detail on previous patients’ hospital experiences to help inform members’ decisions when heading to hospital.

Medibank chief medical officer Dr Linda Swan said they knew from the research that patients were calling for more support in the lead up to and following hospital admissions.

“Our new Hospital Assist program aims to address this, and ensure members feel informed and at ease every step of the way, with help always on hand,” she said.

“We’ve been having regular conversations with our members and everyday Australians to find out how we can make health insurance better.

“The launch of Hospital Assist is just the latest in a range of positive changes, and we look forward to making further improvements over the coming months.”

The research found half of patients admitted to spending upwards of three hours seeking help and advice about their upcoming admission, with one in four spending five or more hours trying to source the required information.

While a quarter of patients said they wished they’d had someone to talk to out-of-hours in the lead up to their hospital visit, many didn’t want to bother their doctor or specialist with “silly questions”, with 39 per cent turning to Google instead.

Looking at the factors concerning patients, one in five were unsure about how to prepare for their treatment or procedure, while others were confused about the recovery period, such as how to manage pain relief or medicine, foods to include or exclude from their diet, and how to prepare their home for discharge.

“It’s clear that there are a number of unknowns when it comes to a hospital admission – from the process and logistics surrounding a hospital stay, to the management of your health following discharge – with many patients turning to the internet for answers,” Dr Swan said.

“While medical advice should always be provided by your treating doctor, our Hospital Assist program is here to offer support throughout the journey, allowing you to better navigate your way through the healthcare system.”

Hospital Assist is available to eligible Medibank members with hospital cover.

For more information on the Hospital Assist program, visit medibank.com.au/hospitalassist.