Essay – Comparing Health Systems We are often interested to see how our national experiences of health and health care compare on an international scale. These comparisons create a broader perspective for researchers, policy makers and the general public. Being aware of the successes and setbacks of other countries may inform how new policies, health interventions or preventative measures are developed and implemented in one’s own country. International health comparisons can help making valid comparisons of health across different countries however it is important to make sure that what is being compared is able to be compared. Both the use and interpretation of international comparisons need to be considered carefully. If the data and methods that underlie these comparisons are not assessed, the results could be misinterpreted. There are methodological issues to consider in assessing data availability and quality, and in deciding which countries to compare. Decisions about the data used and the countries selected should be documented with adequate rationale to ensure the limitations and assumptions are clear and duly considered. These decisions can influence the differences observed between countries and the conclusions made. These are all considerations that you will need to make when you undertake this assignment. Checklist for international comparisons of health related data Consider these questions when presenting or interpreting an international comparison of health-related data. Data quality
Consistency—are the data defined consistently across countries?
Methodology—do all countries use the same method to collect the data?
Coverage—do the data cover similar parts of the population?
Time period—do the data refer to the same time period? Choice of countries
Comparability—are countries sufficiently similar to support comparison? Presentation and interpretation
Presentation—are the data presented appropriately? Explanation—is the variation between countries adequately explained? Underlying differentials—are differences within countries considered? Context—can the data be used outside of an international comparison? THE TASK You are to research and analyse health care performance data in at least two countries one of which must be Australia (if you are studying in Australia) or Singapore (if you are studying in Singapore) and write an essay of 3000 words comparing the following five (5) areas for each country. Be careful to pick the other country that is comparable and has the quality of data required to complete the comparison.
The areas for comparision are listed below:
1. Funding System (including health insurance systems)
2. Governance System
3. Selected Population Health Indicators a. Maternal Mortality Rate b. Infant Mortality Rate c. Life Expectancy at Birth
4. Health Status a. Low birth weight b. Obsesity c. Diabetes d. Asthma e. Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) f. Cancer
5. Health System Performance
1. % GDP Spent on Health
2. Define each of the following measures and provide the results and commentary for comparison that the countries use to demonstrate that health care is: i. Acceptable