User guide

The data cubes can be used to explore a range of clinical data related to hospital separations. This document will provide some tips on how to utilise the data cubes generally and how to deal with the different formats in which the cubes are provided.

From the 2015-16 financial year, hospitals data cubes have been made available in excel format. Prior to 2015-16 hospitals data cubes are available in the SAS cubes software. The guide for extraction of information from these cubes depends on the format in which they are available.

Hospitals data cubes 2015-16 and later

The excel data cube workbooks consist of two sheets:

  • DRG Counts Data contains separation statistics by AR-DRG by age group by sex by same-day status.
  • DRG Counts Summary contains a pivot table showing separation statistics by AR-DRG. This pivot table can be modified to various levels by right clicking on the table, selecting ‘Show Field List’ and then modifying the pivot table as desired.

  • Variables in the ROWS list can be removed to disaggregate at higher levels.
  • Variable such as age group, sex and/or same-day flag can be dragged to the COLUMNS list to disaggregate by these variables.

The cubes contain information on the number of separations and number of patient days. Once the cube has been aggregated/disaggregated to the desired level, average length of stay can be calculated as number of patient days/number of separations.

Hospital data cubes prior to 2015-16

These data cubes will open in a new window. Data will be displayed at the most aggregated level.

Expanding categories and sub-categories

Clicking on the plus (+) symbols against each row will expand that item into its relevant sub categories, within the current view.

Clicking the arrow symbols beside the plus will expand the category and also limit the view to just that expanded area of interest.

Right clicking on category headings such as MDC will bring up a menu where you can click ‘Expand All’, which will expand every item in that list. If you also do this with the partition headings you can expand out the entire data cube and display all of the available information.

Adding breakdowns

In the default view, the cube will just present the number of hospital separations by year but you can also add other breakdowns such as by Age group, sex, and patient days or average length of stay. .

To add an extra breakdown,  right click on one of the numbers in the cube and choose ‘Assign data’.

Then choose which variables to add to rows or columns of the cube.

Exporting data to Excel

The current view of the data cube can easily be exported to Excel by choosing ‘Export…’ from the ‘File’ menu, and then saving the zipped file to your computer. When extracting the zip archive you will need to extract all files in the archive before opening the downloaded Excel document.

Exporting the whole data cube

To do this, first see the notes about Expanding the categories and sub categories first and using Expand All. Then once you have the full view of the cube, export the data as per the step above.

Tips on using the AR-DRGs data cube

Note that the use of the different AR-DRG versions in the data cubes over time means that data across years may not be exactly comparable.

Within the cubes, users can view the AR-DRG by working down from the Major Diagnostic Category (MDC) level to the surgical/medical/other partition of the MDC to the individual DRGs, as outlined below.

  • Major diagnostic category
  • Surgical/Medical/Other partition
  • AR-DRG 

For example

  • MDC 04. Diseases and disorders of the respiratory system
    • Surgical
      • AR-DRG E01A Major chest procedures with catastrophic complication or comorbidity

Users of the data cube are likely to require some familiarity with AR-DRGs and have access to the definitions manual and can also refer to the Australian Hospital Statistics publications. Users will generally need to know what MDC the information they are looking for is in, to work down to more specific levels of detail. More information about the breakdowns and categories used within the data cube are given below.

Major diagnostic categories (MDCs)

The data cube is categorised by the 23 Major Diagnostic Categories (MDCs) into which the patient’s diagnosis and the associated AR-DRG falls. They correspond generally to the major organ systems of the body. Below is a list of each of the 23 MDCs and the range of AR-DRGs that fall into each category.

Major Diagnostic Categories and the AR-DRG ranges covered by each:



MDC Description

AR-DRG beginning with


Major procedures where the principal diagnosis may be associated with any MDC



Diseases and disorders of the nervous system



Diseases and disorders of the eye



Diseases and disorders of the ear, nose, mouth and throat



Diseases and disorders of the respiratory system



Diseases and disorders of the circulatory system



Diseases and disorders of the digestive system



Diseases and disorders of the hepatobiliary system and pancreas



Diseases and disorders of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue



Diseases and disorders of the skin, subcutaneous tissue and breast



Endocrine, nutritional and metabolic diseases and disorders



Diseases and disorders of the kidney and urinary tract



Diseases and disorders of the male reproductive system



Diseases and disorders of the female reproductive system



Pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium



Newborns and other neonates



Diseases and disorders of the blood and blood forming organs and immunological disorders



Neoplastic disorders (haematological and solid neoplasms)



Infectious and parasitic diseases



Mental diseases and disorders



Alcohol/drug use and alcohol/drug induced organic mental disorders



Injuries, poisoning and toxic effects of drugs






Factors influencing health status and other contacts with health services



Error DRGs


Broad categories of service

The data cube is next broken down by the surgical, medical, and other partitions of the AR-DRG. These partitions represent the broad category of service associated with that AR-DRG, as described below:

  • Surgical: separations for which the AR-DRG belonged to the Surgical partition of the AR-DRG classification (involving an operating room procedure).
  • Medical: separations for which the AR-DRG belonged to the Medical partition (not involving an operating room procedure).
  • Other: separations for which the AR-DRG did not belong to the Surgical or Medical partitions (involving a non-operating room procedure, such as endoscopy).