Primary health care data development

The primary health care data set vision

Primary health care forms an integral part of the Australian health care system, yet high quality and reliable data is limited. This has made it difficult to assess system performance with the same rigour as applied for hospital care which, in turn, makes it difficult to identify and monitor areas where improvements are needed. Limited data also restricts the ability to examine return on investment for government.

The Primary Health Care Advisory Group (PHCAG) reported to the Australian Government in 2015 and outlined a strategic direction of ‘nationally consistent aggregated data’ that can be ‘used at a national and regional level to target health resources and interventions, leading to improved population health and health system outcomes’.

In the May 2018 Federal Budget the AIHW was appropriated to establish a Primary Health Care Data Unit and to develop a National Primary Health Care Data Asset. This Data Asset will support the reporting of key primary health care indicators, resulting in a better understanding of patient outcomes, from diagnosis, treatment and experiences within the healthcare system.

The AIHW’s role

The AIHW is beginning a multi-phase project with the aim of developing a National Primary Health Care Data Asset (Data Asset). This will be a repository of detailed and selected high-quality data about primary health care to increase knowledge about the services delivered and their associated costs and benefits. The process of establishing the repository will also be used to drive improvements in the quality and standardisation of data in the collections it draws on.

The AIHW has experience and expertise in end-to-end data services including data development and data governance that make the organisation well-placed to lead development of the Data Asset.

The proposed Data Asset will:

  • enable better population health planning
  • help identify gaps in the provision of primary health care services
  • shape primary health care programs and policies
  • provide information on the patients’ journey at a population level, which can support future patients’ choices
  • allow for international and Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development comparison.

This Data Asset will support the reporting of key primary health care indicators, resulting in a better understanding of the patient’s journey and experiences within the healthcare system, including their reason for an encounter with a clinician, diagnosis, treatment and outcomes.

Data sources

In the medium term GP-specific data from the following sources will be considered:

  • general practice data from electronic health records
  • Medicare Benefits Schedule data
  • Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme data
  • immunisation data.

In the long-term, sources may include pathology data and diagnostic imaging data.

New and developing data sources, such as patient reported experience measures (PREMs) and patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) data, will also be considered.

Stakeholder engagement

The AIHW has identified key stakeholder groups who are of importance in the development of the Data Asset:

  • consumers (beneficiaries of research and improvements from the data)
  • providers of primary health care at the practice and organisational level (peak bodies and professional associations)
  • commissioners of health services (PHNs)
  • policy makers (health departments, other government departments and international organisations)
  • researchers and non-government organisations
  • providers involved in the development and standardisation of selected PHC data variables and infrastructure
  • providers of Indigenous-specific health services.

Figure 1 outlines the three phases of the AIHW’s stakeholder engagement plan. We are currently in the Discovery and Drafting phases, working towards the implementation of a data development plan.

Figure 1 outlines the AIHW’s primary health care stakeholder engagement plan, broken down into three phases. It should be noted that the phases might overlap, particularly the later stages of the discovery phase and the drafting phase. < >Discovery phase (currently underway)The AIHW is involved in direct bilateral and multilateral (where appropriate) engagements with selected stakeholders on the development of a draft data development plan for the Data Asset.

Contact information:

AIHW Primary Health Care Data Unit

Phone: (02) 6244 1000

Email: [email protected]