Looking back on health in 2020: How COVID-19 changed the way Australians used health services
The article was originally posted on LinkedIn by Barry Sandison, AIHW CEO.
Australians faced many challenges to their health and wellbeing this year, from the extensive Black Summer bushfires to the global pandemic, leading to less direct health outcomes for many.
As more restrictions were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, many health services were suspended or required to operate in new or different ways. As a result, this led to fewer Australians presenting to hospital emergency departments with injuries and less elective surgeries being performed.
While reduced health services may have limited our access to and use of these services, in some cases, new or additional services were made available to Australians through changes to health service delivery models, policies and programs. For instance, more people filled prescriptions and had telehealth medical consultations after COVID-19 restrictions were first implemented.
The AIHW, and many other agencies, redirected resources to support the pandemic response over this period, including reallocating staff to support national and state and territory emergency response facilities, rapid data sharing and the operational response.
As 2020 wraps up, we look back on health in 2020 by examining the main impacts of the pandemic on the Australian health system in a series of reports released today. These include:
- The annual MyHospitals emergency department and elective surgery updates for 2019–20
- Special reports about the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) & Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS)
- The use of mental health services and cancer screening programs during COVID-19
- And an update of hospital hand hygiene data
We’ve also released several reports this year containing information relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic. A full list can be found on the AIHW’s COVID-19 Resources page.
Congratulations to all the teams involved in the production of today’s releases—we look forward to continuing our work on the impacts of the pandemic in the new year.
Subscribe to the AIHW’s release notices for future COVID-19 related reports, data and other health & welfare information.