Research shows gap in healthcare data surveillance

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

With an estimated 175,000 Australians affected by healthcare-associated infections (HAI) each year, new research published by the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA) supports the introduction of a national data surveillance program.

AHHA Chief Executive Alison Verhoeven says that the research, featured in the organisation’s academic journal, the Australian Health Review, shows how the health sector can act to curb rates of infection.

“While there a number of Australian states and territories that employ HAI surveillance programs, these are not standardised like we see in many other countries,” Ms Verhoeven said. “As a result, the use of the data collected by these disparate surveillance programs is very limited.

“A national HAI surveillance program, modelled on successful local and international programs, could help provide more meaningful, reliable and valid data that would reduce the incidence of HAIs.”

Ms Verhoeven also says the research suggests that the lack of a national data surveillance program in Australia presents a unique opportunity to construct a HAI program based on the best available information.

“The US, Germany, UK, Spain, France, Scotland and the Netherlands have all implemented successful national data surveillance programs, and we can ‘cherry pick’ what works and what doesn’t in each instance,” Ms Verhoeven said.

“By leveraging off existing Australian and international programs, we can develop an effective surveillance program that can detect clusters or outbreaks of HAIs, identify programs and evaluate prevention and control measures; ultimately stimulating action and driving improvement.”

The open access articles in the February edition of the Australian Health Review include:

To request an interview with the authors, contact communications@ahha.asn.au