Palliative care outcomes

The Australian Palliative Care Outcomes Collaboration (PCOC), established in 2005, is a national palliative care outcomes and benchmarking program. PCOCs primary objective is to systematically improve patient outcomes (including pain and symptom control).

The information presented in this section refers to specialist palliative care service data reported to PCOC for the 1 January to 31 December 2017 period. Three levels of PCOC data items are presented here: patient level, episode level and phase level care data. The items in the PCOC data collection:

  • provide clinicians with an approach to systematically assess individual patient experiences
  • include routine Patient Reported Outcomes Measures (PROMs) relating to symptom distress
  • define a common clinical language to allow palliative care providers to communicate with each other
  • facilitate the routine collection of nationally consistent palliative care data for the purpose of reporting and benchmarking to drive quality improvement

As participation in PCOC is voluntary, the data presented in this section describe a subset of all specialist palliative care services delivered in Australia in 2017. An estimated 85% of palliative care services voluntarily participate in PCOC. For further information about PCOC, refer to their website.

Data downloads

Palliative care outcomes tables 2017 (428KB XLS)

Palliative care outcomes section 2017 (339KB)

The information in this section was last updated in October 2018.

Key points

  • 39,800 patients accessed specialist palliative care services from 130 PCOC participating palliative care providers in 2017.
  • 53,200 episodes of care were provided, of which just over half were inpatient episodes .
  • 77.6% of episodes were characterised by a cancer diagnosis.
  • 74 was the median age for all patients reported to PCOC during 2017.
  • 94.8% of patients had their care commence on the day of, or the day after, the date they were ready for palliative care (Benchmark 1).
  • 86.9% of patients had urgent needs (i.e. unstable phase) managed in 3 days or less.

Inpatient and community care

In 2017, 39,805 patients accessed palliative care from 130 specialist palliative care services participating in PCOC, an increase of 8.8% from 2016. There were 53,232 episodes of care reported to PCOC, of which just over half (53.4%) were inpatient episodes. This equates to an average of 1.3 episodes of palliative care per patient.

The information provided on total number of days for episodes of care is categorised by 2 broad types of care— inpatient and community. It should be noted that the number of patients reported to PCOC refers to patients who may receive services both within the inpatient and community settings. Hence, the same patient can have an inpatient episode and then subsequent community episodes and therefore may be counted for both service settings.