Context

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) is undertaking work to develop a National Health Information Strategy (NHIS). The AIHW will work to support an Independent Expert Panel who will take the overall lead on the work, and lead engagement and consultation with stakeholders in governments, the health sector and beyond. The work will be done in collaboration with the AIHW’s Strategic Committee for National Health Information (SCNHI) and with the Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council’s (AHMAC) Health Services Principal Committee (HSPC). The final report will be provided to AHMAC and CoAG Health Council (CHC) late in 2020 and then published.

Despite the acknowledged importance of health data and information for driving continuous improvement in health outcomes, and the effectiveness and efficiency of health services and the health system more broadly, there is no overarching agreement or strategy that draws together the information components of health agreements and initiatives, or which provides a road-map for national health information needs over the longer term. 

There is limited understanding of the scope of available health information resources, overlaps or gaps in information, and national information and infrastructure development priorities. There is also uncertainty about some aspects of key roles and responsibilities and the potential for missed opportunities to maximise benefits from investments in data and information.

Comprehensive national approaches are required to reorienting the national health information system to be more patient-centred; to serve the needs of patients and consumers in addition to serving the needs of managers and funders; to integrate with and leverage to best effect from digital health initiatives, research programs, population surveys and emerging information sources; to share data while preserving privacy; and to ensure appropriate social licence or community acceptance of the use of their data in these ways.

The scope of a NHIS is expected to cover broad priorities such as:

  • Governance
    • Privacy and confidentiality 
    • Social licence 
    • Data liberalisation, data access and sharing 
  • Infrastructure
    • Secure remote access facilities 
    • Cyber security
    • Digital health systems and tools
  • National health data 
    • Indicators of health status 
    • Information on health determinants 
    • Health policy information requirements 
  • Analysis, insights and reporting for:
    • Governments and private sector
    • Consumers and citizens
    • Clinicians
    • Researchers

A NHIS will aim to overcome information gaps and barriers and drive prioritized investments in health information to ensure that national health information assets and infrastructures are fit-for-purpose into the future. 

A NHIS will also provide an overarching framework which will assist in the coordination of jurisdiction and non-government priorities so that activities undertaken do not duplicate effort across jurisdictions and lead to better, more effective use of resources which in turn will assist in improving health outcomes. 

A NHIS will provide a framework which will address interoperability issues and think ‘beyond health’ to domains such as aged care, disability, participation in sport and workers’ compensation.

The development of the NHIS will take into account but not duplicate other strategies and initiatives such as the National Health Reform Agreement, the implementation of Australian Health Performance Framework, the National Health Information Agreement, the National Digital Health Strategy, My Health Record, and the National Genomics Strategy.

Above all, a NHIS will provide assurance to the community and health information stakeholders of the competence of the system and key information organisations in managing data with a strong and respectful focus on privacy and data security.  

Terms of Reference

Vision for a National Health Information Strategy

A national strategy for health information will provide a 10–15 year vision, and an enduring framework to achieve coordinated, integrated, efficient, effective and timely collection and development of health data and information.  

The national strategy for health information will ensure that Australia’s health data and associated health information infrastructure meet the present and future needs of all who work in, support or manage the health system, for the benefit of all Australians as users, patients and citizens. As such, its key themes will support a series of 3–4 year National Health Information Investment Action Plans.

It will provide a framework to ensure that Australia’s health information infrastructure is at all times developed to exploit relevant technological advances and deliver for improved health and wellbeing, and the good of society overall.  

Governance arrangements

The Independent Expert Panel has been established by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Its members are independent consultants who will provide their expert opinions, advice, support and technical directions to deliver a National Health Information Strategy consistent with the requirements of the HSPC.

The term of the Independent Expert Panel is approximately 15 months from 1 July 2019.  

Membership

The Independent Expert Panel is made up of individuals who are;

  • independent of government;
  • well respected in their field and have the ability to influence change; 
  • have technical credibility in their area of expertise; and
  • have a range of skills in the following areas: 
    • public administration, 
    • health research, 
    • clinical practice, 
    • health consumers, and 
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing.

Independent Expert Panel Members Responsibilities and Key Tasks

The Independent Expert Panel will lead and drive the development of the Strategy by:

  • Providing direction-setting and shaping of the project; 
  • Shaping and editing the draft Strategy; and 
  • Owning and endorsing the final Strategy for presentation to HSPC by October 2020.

In addition, the Independent Expert Panel will:

  • Assist in the identification of relevant Stakeholders and experts for purposes of consultation;
  • Meet with relevant jurisdictional representatives, committees or other stakeholders to discuss issues as required; and
  • Participate in one or more of the planned consultation forums (initial limited roundtable forums and later wider consultations) which will take place between October 2019 and February 2020.

Chair

In addition to the outline provided under ’Independent Expert Panel Members Responsibilities and Key Tasks’ and ’Governance Arrangements’, the Chair will also: 

  • Chair meetings of the Panel;
  • Present the final Strategy to HSPC;
  • Liaise with the AIHW team working on the NHIS project, including senior AIHW management;
  • Provide direction and assist in the preparation of papers going to the AIHW’s Strategic Committee for National Health Information (SCHNI), HSPC or AHMAC to ensure the views of the Independent Expert Panel are appropriately reflected.

Support for the Independent Expert Panel

The Independent expert panel will be supported by a project team located in AIHW. The project team will provide secretariat support including, for example:

  • Research support to enable policy thinking and analysis by the Independent Expert Panel; 
  • Manage project processes and report progress to SCNHI and HSPC; 
  • Identify and coordinate cross government stakeholders and cross jurisdiction engagement and collaboration;
  • Drafting the Strategy with advice and comments from IEP members; and
  • Drafting papers on advice from IEP members.

Contact

Postal Address NHIS Support Team
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
GPO Box 570
Canberra
ACT, 2601
Email address [email protected]