Three-year study of patient experiences in hospital shows gaps in health care

Sydney, 11 October 2016:

HCF, the leading not-for-profit health fund protecting Australians since 1932, has released results from 35,000 member surveys collected over the last three years, revealing valuable insights into how Australia’s public and private hospitals are faring.

Comprehensive data from the HCF Hospital Patient Experience Survey unveils statistics on member hospital admissions and qualitative insights into patient experiences while in hospital, including interactions with clinical staff. 

Through collecting detailed member feedback and perspectives, HCF aims to better understand and improve actual patient outcomes and experiences in the healthcare system. HCF is committed to empowering members to better understand their health cover and make informed decisions about their health, particularly when going to hospital.

Key findings:

  • Medical staff at both public and private hospitals are rated well, however there is scope for improvement in medication management – 1 in 10 patients didn’t have medication side-effects explained to them, and 1 in 5 didn’t always know what their medication was for.
  • Private hospitals outperform public hospitals, but public hospitals are improving and closing the gap – the average recommendation score for private hospitals is 9 out of 10, public hospitals increasing to 8.3 out of 10 (up from 7.8 in 2013).
  • Significant disconnect between member expectations and actual experiences in public hospitals – 60% of HCF members did not receive their choice of doctor in a public hospital, and only 20% received a single room, despite being admitted as a private patient.
  • Most patients (9 in 10) received post-discharge assistance with their medical team – however 19% of patients didn’t receive any information in writing about symptoms or health problems to look out for after leaving the hospital.
  • 4% of patients surveyed wouldn’t have chosen to have their hospital treatment if they had known the outcome

Shaun Larkin, HCF Managing Director, says transparency and education is key to ensuring positive patient experiences and outcomes in hospital.

“Our members are telling us that they want a partner that stays with them before, during and after their hospital admission. Based on this feedback we have changed, and will continue to change, the way we communicate to members to help them better navigate the healthcare system and make informed decisions.”

There are more than 10 million hospitalisations in public and private hospitals in Australia each year. HCF urges people to take an active role in their health choices and understand their options before, during, and after their admission to hospital. The information at is designed to help and is based on the feedback of the over 35,000 people who completed the HCF Hospital Patient Experience Survey.


Notes to editors:
The HCF Hospital Patient Experience Survey was collected between 2013 and 2016, and includes data from 35,000 individual HCF member responses to a 35-question survey, covering areas including:

  • Overall rating of care providers
  • Care experience in hospital
  • Out of hospital care
  • Unexpected events
  • Health outcomes
  • Public hospital declaration and benefits 

Issued on behalf of HCF by WE Buchan. For more information, contact:


About HCF 

HCF, leading not-for-profit health fund protecting Australians since 1932, covers 1.5 million members with health and life insurance, community care, travel and pet insurance. 

On average over the last five years, HCF has paid out more cents in every dollar in premiums to members as benefits than the industry average. With over 35,000 specialists participating in its Medical Gap Cover Scheme and more than 10,000 clinicians participating in its 100% back More for You programs, HCF gives members access to quality health care with no gaps or minimal costs compared to non-participating providers. 

To empower members to put their health first, HCF also offers a range of health and lifestyle services including its My Health Guardian health management program, mobile Victor Chang Heart Health Checks and My Global Specialist second opinion service. 

HCF’s national network of retail outlets and Australian-based call centres have earned multi-award winning status. HCF members also have access to low cost, high quality services at HCF Dental Centres and HCF Eyecare Centres. 

Having contributed $50 million to support the health services research funded by the HCF Research Foundation, HCF is devoted to investing in the future of Australia’s health. 

To learn more about HCF go to

Media contacts

For all media contacts, please contact Buchan Consulting on 02 9237 2819 or via email