Better information in many areas of health could enable us to better understand health behaviours, actions and outcomes, and to identify possible avenues for improvement.
Part of the AlHW's role as a national data agency is to identify areas where health data could be improved and to highlight current data gaps. Three of the messages that emerge from Australia's health 2016 in this area are that:
- we need to improve the quality of data currently available in many areas
- we need new data in some areas
- we need to better utilise some of the data we already have.
For example, currently there is limited national information on primary health care consultations; ambulance, aeromedical and allied health services; and on state-funded community health services. Access to selected information already collected electronically by organisations or health professionals in the course of service delivery, with appropriate privacy and data governance arrangements, would help to address this deficiency.
Similarly, there is a lack of information on the outcomes of health care in Australia, and limited information is available on safety and quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
These gaps, along with other data limitations, are discussed in the 'What is missing from the picture?' sections throughout Australia's health 2016.
Throughout the report we point to the benefits of linking data sets to help us better understand people's pathways through the health system and the effectiveness and efficiency of our health system.