The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) undertook a healthcare variation study. Australia was one of 13 participating countries. The aims of the study were to:

  • Document health care variations, with a focus on within country variations
  • Analyse possible causes of variations, and
  • Explore policy options to reduce unwarranted variations and improve resource allocation.

The OECD identified a common set of medical procedures and interventions for analysis of intra-country variation, and some optional additional procedures. The procedures where Australian data is being analysed are:

  • caesarean section
  • cardiac catheterisation
  • revascularisation procedures (coronary bypass and coronary angioplasty)
  • knee arthroscopy and replacement
  • hip fracture, and
  • hysterectomy.

The Australian contribution was coordinated by the Commission in partnership with all states and territories and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The work was overseen by an advisory group comprising representatives from all Australian jurisdictions. Clinical experts provided some advice on questions and further analyses arising from the initial results.

The Commission and AIHW released the Australian results of this work in May 2014: Exploring Healthcare Variation in Australia: Analyses Resulting from an OECD Study discussion paper and summary document.

Geographic Variation in Health Care

The OECD launched the final report of this study featuring data from all 13 participating countries (including Australia) on 16 September 2014.

Download the full report from the OECD website.

ABC Radio National’s Health reporter, Dr Norman Swan, spoke with the Commission’s Professor Anne Duggan about the findings from the report.

Download the audio or transcript from this interview.