This latest update provides information on 22 conditions for which hospitalisation is considered to be potentially preventable. The term potentially preventable hospitalisation does not mean that a patient admitted for that condition did not need to be hospitalised at the time of admission. Rather, the hospitalisation may have been prevented by timely and appropriate provision of primary or community-based health care. Reducing hospitalisations might involve vaccination, early diagnosis and treatment, and/or good ongoing management of risk factors and conditions in community settings.

Age-standardised rates and other contextual information are provided for all 22 conditions, focusing on five conditions that together contribute most to the number of days spent in hospital for potentially preventable hospitalisations nationally. These conditions are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes complications, congestive heart failure, cellulitis, and kidney and urinary tract infections.

The data are presented for Australia's 31 Primary Health Network (PHN) areas and for more than 300 smaller local areas, known as Statistical Areas Level 3 (SA3s). All information relates to where a person lived, not where they went to hospital.

This local-level information can be used as an indicator of patients’ access to primary health care services and the appropriateness or effectiveness of care, as well as preventive health interventions. It is intended to assist local health professionals to develop strategies for change where needed, in the context of their local area.

The data show that in 2015–16:

  • Nationally there were nearly 680,000 hospitalisations for the 22 conditions for which hospitalisation is considered potentially preventable. This represented 6% of all hospital admissions to a public or private hospital in Australia that year
  • Potentially preventable hospitalisations accounted for nearly 2.7 million bed days nationally – equivalent to 9% of all public and private hospital bed days
  • Nationally, the age-standardised rate of potentially preventable hospitalisation was 2,643 per 100,000 people. Across PHN areas, rates were almost three times as high in some areas compared with others, ranging from 1,956 potentially preventable hospitalisations per 100,000 people in Northern Sydney to 5,457 per 100,000 in Northern Territory
  • Across more than 300 local areas (SA3s) there was even greater variation. The age-standardised rate of potentially preventable hospitalisation were more than five times as high in some areas compared with others, ranging from 1,584 per 100,000 people in South East Coast (Tas) to 8,964 hospitalisations per 100,000 in Alice Springs (NT).

This web update is accompanied by data visualisations allowing users to explore the data in depth for their area and compare with other local communities. All data can be downloaded in an Excel workbook and some resources summarising results - including for the five focal conditions - by PHN area are also available.

Note: Caution should be used comparing PPH over time due to changes that have occurred in classifications and coding standards. See the Technical Note for further information.