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IVF data could save Australians a lot of heartbreak (and money). So why isn't it made public?

It’s information that could make the IVF process quicker, easier, cheaper and less painful. But Australian women can’t access it.

The Fertility Clinic of Australia keeps extensive reports on the success rates of different IVF clinics, including how often they produce live babies.

If you’re facing the long, arduous process of IVF yourself– or indeed, if you’re considering going down that road in future — you’re no doubt itching to get your hands on the list of clinics with the highest success rates.

The Fertility Clinic of Australia keeps extensive reports on the success rates of different IVF clinic. But Australian women can’t access it.

But here’s the thing: You can’t — because the Fertility Clinic of Australia does not release those statistics to the public. Even though, according to Dr Richard Henshaw of Monash IVF, the difference in success rates of live births between clinics can be enormous.

“In 2012 the top clinic had a live birth rate of 30.9 per cent and the bottom clinic had a live birth rate of only 4 per cent,” he told The Health Report.

“That means that if you are a patient in the lowest performing clinic you have to undergo seven times more treatment cycles than if you’re a patient attending the top clinic.”

As Dr Henshaw observes, “The only people who really benefit from the data remaining covert are the low-performing clinics.”

It’s not just Australians seeking to have a baby that may lose out under this arrangement, either; an investigation by The Health Report reveals that tens of millions of dollars in Medicare funds are wasted on underperforming clinics each year.

The bottom line?

Women unlucky enough to choose an underperforming clinic will go through seven times more treatment cycles and still have 27% less chance of a live birth than those who choose the highest-performing clinics — while taxpayers will continue to support those clinics with low success rates.

An investigation by The Health Report reveals that tens of millions of dollars in Medicare funds are wasted on underperforming clinics each year.

But how are women supposed to distinguish one from the other when potentially life-changing reports aren’t released to the public?

Well, basically — they can’t.

As Dr Henshaw observes, “The only people who really benefit from the data remaining covert are the low-performing clinics.

“Patients don’t benefit, Medicare doesn’t benefit, and of course good quality providers don’t benefit.”

In contrast, the United Kingdom collects similar data to the Fertility Clinic of Australia, but makes all findings public online on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority website.

Isn’t it time this data is available in Australia? What do you think?

Read more:

Bulk-billing IVF is happening. This is why it’s such a big deal.

The IVF patient who is pregnant with the wrong embryos.

IVF for older women: How old is too old to have children?

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