The changes being considered would help lower the cost of providing treatment as well as giving patients access to “optimal” care, he said.
“The hospital-in-the-home revolution is potentially one of the most significant improvements in the private health offering in the last 20 years,” Mr Hunt said.
He gave the example of someone being admitted for in-patient mental health treatment and staying in a hospital psychiatric ward for up to 20 days as covered by their health fund.
“The optimal treatment might be five days in hospital followed by two months of twice-weekly therapy at home,” Mr Hunt said.
A patient admitted for orthopaedic surgery, such as a hip or knee replacement, “might benefit from a shorter stay in hospital and a longer period of active rehabilitation outside of the hospital at home”.
Mr Hunt revealed the plan as independent public policy think tank the Grattan Institute called on the government to force private hospitals to “lift their game” and submit to the same activity-based funding rules as public hospitals so insurers did not have to pay for “wasteful” services.
In a paper to be released on Tuesday, the institute’s health economist, Stephen Duckett, said private hospitals should negotiate with all medical practitioners involved in a hospital stay on the patient’s behalf before handing “a single bill” – including all X-rays, scans and blood tests – to their insurer.
“Private hospitals would have to absorb any excess costs from doctors – or charge patients a declared and upfront fee to cover those costs,” Dr Duckett said.