Time for community allied health services to be counted

Thursday, June 18, 2020

‘It’s time that an effective data collection and reporting system was established in Australia for community allied healthcare services’ says Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive of the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association.

‘And by this I don’t mean “supply side” administrative data on how many people are providing what service. We need data to support the integration of allied health with other health services to achieve high value outcomes for people with chronic diseases.’

Ms Verhoeven was commenting on an AHHA Deeble Institute Issues Brief released today, Data collection for community-based allied health chronic disease management.

The Brief was written by Jonathan Foo, a Deeble scholar and PhD student at Monash University, and Dr Rebecca Haddock, Director of the Deeble Institute.

‘There is no doubt that community-based allied health services have an important role in managing chronic conditions and reducing preventable hospitalisations’, Ms Verhoeven said.

‘Further, community-based care has been recognised in the 2020–2025 National Health Reform Agreement as essential to improving health outcomes and the sustainability of the Australian health system.

‘Strategic use of the allied health workforce has significant potential to improve the healthcare system overall through greater integration of different types of care.

‘Unfortunately, this cannot be done with any certainty when the only data available is on what is currently being provided. 

‘We need to collect data about the conditions being managed and what is being achieved—from the viewpoints of patients as well as service providers.

‘This kind of information provides insights on the professional skills mix required to meet those needs’, Ms Verhoeven said.

‘This may include rural generalists in allied health, team-based care in partnership with GPs and specialists, and virtual health service delivery.’

Among other innovations discussed in the Issues Brief are financial incentives for allied health providers to collect and report data, and integrating the data with important national datasets and infrastructure such as My Health Record and the National Primary Health Care Data Asset (currently under development).


This paper was developed as part of a Jeff Cheverton Memorial Scholarship undertaken at the Deeble Institute for Health Policy Research. The Scholarship was established by the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association together with Brisbane North Primary Health Network and North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network to honour the memory of Jeff Cheverton.


The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association is the national peak body for public and not-for-profit hospitals, Primary Health Networks, and community and primary healthcare services.

Media enquiries: Alison Verhoeven, Chief Executive, AHHA, 0403 282 501