New Zealand has long been known as the country with the best medical care.
But a new survey says it may be time for a change.
The survey of more than 2,000 New Zealand residents by the University of Otago found that those who use their medical care from a doctor or pharmacist have a much lower rate of hospitalisation and the use of an ambulance compared to those who do not.
The study was carried out by the Otago Institute of Health Research, a non-profit group, with help from academics and a company that helps hospitals and pharmacies set up online pharmacies.
The results are in line with what researchers have been saying for years, but the survey found there was a significant difference in how health care was delivered across the country.
“There’s not really much that we can say about what the relationship between the quality of the care and the cost of the treatment is,” said Professor John Ritter, who led the study.
“The quality of care is much lower than what we would expect for people to pay for, so that’s something that we’ll need to take into account.”
He said it was hard to know how much the quality difference could be attributed to other factors such as a patient’s age or the health of the patient.
“It’s difficult to predict which patients will be able to afford the care that they need.
It’s not like the cost is going up.
It may be that the quality is decreasing and the costs are increasing.”
The survey found that the proportion of residents who used a prescription drug to treat a health problem was more than three times higher than those who did not.
“People who take medication are more likely to be able than others to afford that medication,” Dr Ritter said.
“It’s very important to be aware of that.”
The report also found that more than half of people who use prescription drugs also took a prescription for a preventative medicine.
Dr Ritter and his colleagues said the findings were a first step towards helping more New Zealander get the best care possible.
“What we’re trying to do is to identify where there is a need for improvement and make it more accessible, and to make sure that we’re supporting people who are willing to make that choice,” he said.
Dr Robert Gaffney, the chief executive of the Otaki Institute of Medical Research, said the survey was a good first step.
“We know that if you can improve the health care delivery, that’s really good for people,” he told ABC Radio New Zealand.
“You can reduce the need for hospitalisation, you can reduce people’s risk of dying and you can get people into better care.”
Dr Gaffneys group is working on a study to see if it can identify which hospitals and doctors were the most likely to recommend a drug for people with chronic illnesses.
Dr Gafney said if there was enough evidence to suggest the use in New Zealand was improving, the Otakus could look at putting more of their resources towards this area.
“If we can show that, if there is some evidence that the treatment actually improves outcomes, then we’re in a very strong position to make the next step,” he added.
Topics:health,health-policy,health,drugs-and-substance-abuse,opioid,medical-research,healthcare-facilities,healths,opinion-and_demographics,opinions-and/or-politics,healthsystem,healthpolicy,opakia,nsw,york-1881,australiaContact John TaggartMore stories from New Zealand