New online ‘Australia’s Health Tracker by Area’ a welcome step forward

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A new online interactive map of health in Australia, ‘Australia’s Health Tracker by Area’ is a welcome step forward in highlighting areas for attention in health, as well as areas that could act as examples to follow, according to the nation’s leading public healthcare body, the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA).

‘Australia’s Health Tracker by Area’ was released today by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration at Victoria University, Melbourne, which developed the product with the Public Health Information Development Unit at Torrens University, South Australia.

‘This new digital platform provides instant mapping and localised data on deaths, for example from cancer cardiovascular disease, and suicide, as well as localised estimates of chronic diseases such as diabetes, and health risk factors such as overweight and obesity, high blood pressure and risky alcohol consumption’, said AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven.

The usefulness of data like these is that we can focus on areas where, for instance, the prevalence of chronic diseases like diabetes is unexpectedly high, and then look into reasons why this might be occurring in that area and similar locations. From this, governments and other stakeholders can make informed policy choices in terms of fixing this population health issue.

This kind of data mapping can also be used by Primary Health Networks to determine, at quite a fine geographic level, what is going on health-wise in various communities within their overall areas of responsibility, so that they can take appropriate action from an informed perspective, including where to target their various services.

Ms Verhoeven said that while the geographical data were very welcome in providing snapshots of people’s health and risk factor profiles within areas, further insights could be gained if more comprehensive data on primary health care activity and services within areas were available.

‘Accordingly, we urge the Australian Government, in cooperation with the state and territory governments, to accelerate the funding, development and collection of better national data on general practice and associated primary health care activities at this local level’, said Ms Verhoeven.

‘Governments have said many times over several years that this kind of information was “in the pipeline”, but to date we simply do not have it’, said Ms Verhoeven.

‘Once we have ‘by area’ health services data as well as health data of the kind released today, we will have a solid foundation for health care reform—and with the rise of chronic diseases and the ageing of Australia’s population, the need for reform is becoming more pressing by the day.’

For more information on the AHHA, visit http://ahha.asn.au.

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, community and primary healthcare services, and advocates for universal, high quality and affordable healthcare to benefit the whole community.

Media enquiries:

Alison Verhoeven

Chief Executive 0403 282 501