Primary health care data development

A profile of primary health care nurses

The primary health care workforce is made up of a range of health-care professionals, of which primary health care nurses form the largest group. The Australian Primary Health Care Nurses Association (APNA) is the peak professional body for nurses working in primary health care in Australia. A profile of primary health care nurses summarises APNA membership and annual survey data, exploring who primary health care nurses are, where they work, their career attributes and educational experiences.

The National Primary Health Care Data Asset

Primary health care is a vital component of Australia’s health care system accounting for a large proportion of health care expenditure annually. It is often the first point of contact individuals have with the health system and encompasses a broad range of professions and services. Despite this, there is limited availability of primary health care system data making it difficult to assess the positive impact of this sector on the health of Australians and or identify where improvements are needed.

In the May 2018 Federal Budget the AIHW was funded to establish a Primary Health Care Data Unit and to develop a National Primary Health Care Data Asset (Data Asset). The Data Asset development aligns with priorities outlined in the 2018 Heads of Agreement on public hospital funding and health reform; specifically Enhanced health data as one of the goals of long-term system wide reform.

It is envisaged that an enduring Data Asset will contain reliable, detailed, high-quality data about primary health care which will assist in the creation of a comprehensive understanding of the system and a patient’s journey and experiences within it. It has the potential to create new avenues of analysis for providers, policy-makers and healthcare researchers to enable better population health planning, help identify gaps in primary health care services and ultimately improve patient health outcomes. The process of establishing the Data Asset will also be used to drive cyclical improvements in the quality and standardisation of contributing data.

The proposed Data Asset will:

  • enable better population health planning
  • support improved patient health outcomes, and enable comparison across geography, remoteness and socio-economic gradients
  • enable and inform integrated care
  • help identify gaps in primary health care services and outcomes
  • enable an assessment of the equitable distribution of care
  • shape primary health care programs and policies
  • allow for international comparisons.

The AIHW oncluded the consultation phase of this multi-phase project. A Consultation Report outlines feedback on the Data Asset received through the AIHW consultation workshop series and the associated online public submission process conducted in the first half of 2019. 

The key issues raised by participants were consolidated and summarised in the report which also includes a brief outline of the next steps in developing the Data Asset. 

Developing a National Primary Health Care Data Asset: consultation report (PDF 932KB)

Ongoing consultation is a key focus for the AIHW in developing the Data Asset, to this end, AIHW partnered with the Consumers Health Forum of Australia (CHF) to promote consumer and community awareness and confidence in the Data Asset. To stimulate this conversation webinars were held on 30 October and 11 November, chaired by CHF CEO Leanne Wells featuring a panel of knowledgeable consumers and clinicians. The Webinars focused on issues of privacy, security, patient consent and overall benefits of the Data Asset and are now available online—Our Data Our Health – Webinar October 2019 and Webinar November 2019.   

Contact information:

AIHW Primary Health Care Data Unit

Phone: (02) 6244 1000

Email: [email protected]

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