AIHW news

New opportunities: MBS and PBS data now at AIHW

In late 2015, the Department of Health issued a Public Interest Certificate for the supply of data from the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) to the AIHW, with an eye to achieving 'a better understanding of a wide range of diseases, health conditions, and treatments to achieve significant improvements in the health and wellbeing of all Australians.'

Since then, the AIHW has received five years of de-identified MBS and PBS data. These data are sourced from the claims processing systems administered by the Department of Human Services. These data are now managed by AIHW's Statistical and Analytical Support Unit, under the guidance of the AIHW MBS and PBS Data Steering Committee.

What is MBS and PBS data?

The MBS data holds records for subsidised services by health professionals such as doctors, specialists, optometrists—and in specific circumstances—dentists, and other allied health practitioners.

The PBS data holds records for subsidised prescription drugs dispensed by approved suppliers .

In 2015, there were more than 350 million MBS services claimed and more than 200 million PBS drugs dispensed in Australia.

How will the AIHW use this new resource?

As one of only three Commonwealth Integrating Authorities, the AIHW is well equipped to securely and appropriately facilitate research projects involving the use of this important Commonwealth data asset.

The AIHW will use MBS and PBS data to report on many important aspects of Australia's health and health system, including:

  • trends in health care use
  • inequalities in access and use
  • health expenditure
  • variations in quality of care
  • risk factors for health
  • disease prevalence and impact
  • variations in self management
  • pathways through the health system.

What's next?

The AIHW will build a number of analytical products to suit different analyst and researcher needs, along with our own reporting and statistical summaries from the data. We will develop metadata and other supporting documentation to assist in the use and interpretation of data. These products will be available via the AIHW website.

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