Technical notes

This page contains information relevant to both the Online Services Report (OSR) and national Key Performance Indictors (nKPI) collections. Further information specific to each collection is provided in Interpreting OSR data and Interpreting nKPI data.

Where to go for more information

This page contains general information to aid interpretation of the OSR and nKPI collections. This should be used in conjunction with additional information contained in the:

While some organisations constitute an individual health care clinic, others have multiple clinics, and provide combined data for all their clinics. Other organisations are intermediaries (for example, Primary Health Networks), which might also combine the data for the clinics where they subcontract services.

In both collections, a client may attend more than one organisation. The extent this occurs is not known and is not adjusted for.

Data collection and submission

Each organisation reporting to the OSR and nKPI collections records service provision in their Clinical Information Systems (CIS). While the CISs contain many variables related to individual clients, only those specified as required for the OSR and nKPI collections, aggregated for each organisation, are extracted for use.

Data are aggregated using cohort definitions and specialised software and then submitted to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) via the Health Data Portal (the HDP). The HDP is the Department of Health’s secure web-based data submission platform.

Many CIS are able to extract, aggregate and upload the de-individualised data directly to the HDP through a direct-load process. Organisations with systems unable to complete the direct-load process can manually enter aggregate data directly into a web-based form through the HDP.

The HDP applies a series of pre-defined validation rules (originally developed by the AIHW) to the data to identify any data quality issues, for example, that the numerator is less than the denominator, that the numerator sums to the denominator and that related indicators or questions are consistent. In addition, the data are compared with data from the previous period and:

  • for the OSR collection, differences of more than 20% are flagged
  • for the nKPI collection, differences of 25% to 100% are flagged, depending on the size of the numerator/denominator.

If any validation rules are triggered, the organisation is asked to review their data and either amend it, or confirm that it is correct and provide an optional comment.

The data are then submitted to the AIHW for review. Where the AIHW identifies possible errors or inconsistencies in the data, a comment is added to the HDP containing a description of the issue and the organisation is invited to resubmit their data. This process is repeated until no data quality issues are identified, the relevant organisation indicates it is unable or unwilling to resupply corrected data or the collection period is closed. At this point, the data are considered to be finalised for that organisation.

Where unresolved data quality issues are identified, the AIHW excludes these data from national reporting (this may be a single data item for an organisation or all data for an organisation).

Comparisons over time

Trends over time are presented where possible, noting that the organisations reporting to the OSR and nKPI collections, and data quality, can vary over time. For example:

  • While for the most part, it is the same organisations contributing to the collections, as a result of changes in funding, auspicing or reporting arrangements at the local level:
    • the organisations that are funded to provide services vary between periods
    • the funded organisations that report data each year vary (for example, an organisation may be given an exemption from reporting for specific periods).
  • Some organisations may be unable to report accurate data in particular periods or for particular data items (for example, because of changes in their clinical information systems or record-keeping practices) and these data are excluded from national reporting. As such, the number of organisations submitting valid data, on the whole or for a particular data item, vary between periods.

Also, unlike in previous years where reporting to the OSR and nKPI collections was a mandatory condition of receiving funding, for 2019–20, reporting was made voluntary in acknowledgement of the additional pressures on organisations because of COVID-19. COVID-19 also affected the organisations reporting to the collections in a variety of other ways. See Impact of COVID-19 for more information.