Value of health data highlighted in latest edition of Australian Health Review

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Behind much of the work being undertaken in Australia to improve the efficiency of our health services, and the quality of care they provide, is better use of linked data. This is highlighted in the August 2017 edition of Australian Health Review (AHR) in an open access article on the growth of linked hospital data use in Australia. AHR is the Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association’s peer-reviewed academic journal.

‘When done well, with appropriate privacy and confidentiality safeguards, linked hospital datasets can yield information that is very useful for health policy formulation, without the need, for example, to conduct new data collection activities or run surveys based on patient recall’, AHR’s editor-in-chief, Professor Gary Day said.

‘According to the article, from a University of Melbourne author team, Western Australia and New South Wales have easily outperformed the other states and territories over the last 20 years—over 80% of publications using linked hospital data were from these two states. The investment made by these states in developing data linkage capability to support health systems research is behind this.

‘For hospital and health administrators, the August edition includes an article on improving the accuracy of clinical costing for admitted sub-acute (in this case rehabilitation) patients. This was achieved through an ‘action research’ approach involving identifying current activity, finding gaps, revising the costing methodology, implementing changes and evaluating the effects of those changes.

‘Data issues and analysis are also at the centre of articles on the lack of data on periodontal disease in Indigenous adults, and using an outpatient scheduling database in investigating geographic clustering in chronic liver disease presentations within a health service district in Brisbane.

‘An open access article, from Griffith University, looks into what matters when operational decisions are made about emergency surgery queues. There are tensions surrounding such decisions, especially between surgeons and operating theatre managers, but also involving anaesthetists and nurses. Clinical precedence and logistical challenges are both important, and need to be appreciated and understood by all parties.

‘Social participation as an indicator of successful ageing was considered in an article by a team of authors from Macquarie University. This study goes further than most in looking at three different concepts of social participation, and how they are measured. The authors then suggest that a measure of social participation segmented into each of the three concepts will predict variances in health outcomes to a more accurate extent than any of the measures on their own.

‘On the industrial front, one article looks at the effects of work organisation and the working environment on the emotional engagement of community services nurses in their work. Another investigates the experiences of clinical supervisors when helping international medical graduates adapt to the Australian healthcare system.

‘Barriers is a theme emerging from two articles—one on pharmacists implementing patient-centred professional models of practice, and the other on access to community services counselling, where people who could benefit most from such services are the least likely to use them.

‘Finally, there are four articles where patient experience, or carer or parent experiences and participation are very much to the fore—across hospitals generally, paediatrics, paediatric rheumatology care, and health and support programs for ageing people with intellectual disability.

AHHA is proud to support research through AHR that contributes to the delivery of high quality, efficient and effective health services for all Australians. Articles from the August 2017 AHR can be found here. (Some are freely available through open access, while others need a subscription to AHR, or can be purchased individually.)

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: Prof. Gary Day, Editor-in-Chief, Australian Health Review 0422 236 571