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The purpose of an indicator is to be a partial or proxy measure that provides a summary overview of a specific concept, often as part of a larger system (Pencheon, 2007; QRI, 2021). Performance indicators in health are used to describe specific aspects of our health system to monitor ‘if and how a system is performing to an agreed standard' (Pencheon, 2007, p5). They are also used to understand how a system works and for accountability to consumers, governments and funders (Pencheon, 2007).
Indicators are usually reported in sets, so that collectively they can be used to show how a system, or a component of the system, is changing or progressing (AIHW, 2021).
This page reports data on performance indicators for mental health services using two particular sets: Key Performance Indicators for Australian Public Mental Health Services and the National Health Care Agreement.
The Key Performance Indicators for Australian Public Mental Health Services were developed to improve accountability and transparency and act as a guide to inform decision making.
A summary of the latest indicators data is provided in Figure KPI.1. More detailed data are available in the interactive Figure KPI.2 and accompanying Excel tables. Further information on these indicators can be found in the Indicator library.
A key performance indicator (KPI) is a measure that describes a situation concisely, helps track progress and performance and acts as a guide to inform decision making. In the public mental health sector, these indicators cover different aspects of services. They can inform consumers', service providers' and funders' impressions of service and service performance.
Australian Governments have collaborated to improve the collection and use of mental health service information, resulting in the development of both the National Mental Health Performance Framework and the Key Performance Indicators for Australian Public Mental Health Services (PDF 3.1MB) in 2005.
The KPIs were developed to measure performance in a way that supported quality improvement activities for mental health services (NMHPSC 2013). The KPIs address the health system dimension of the National Mental Health Performance Framework. Further information can be found in the Indicator library.
An infographic showing performance nationally and for each state and territory key performance indicators for Australian public mental health services.
Source: Key Performance Indicators for Australian Public Mental Health Services tables
A series of interactive graphs showing performance against key performance indicators for Australian public mental health services.
The National Healthcare Agreement (NHA) indicators provide an integrated approach to improving health outcomes for Australians and the sustainability of the health system.
The NHA defines the objectives, outcomes, outputs and performance measures, and clarifies the roles and responsibilities that guide the Australian Government and states and territories in delivery of services across the health sector.
Under this Agreement, reporting occurs against the following mental health-related indicators:
The proportion of adults with high or very high levels of psychological distress is also included in the Australian Health Performance Framework and reported by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Data for the indicators on treatment rates and rate of community follow up are reported in the data download National Healthcare Agreement Indicators tables.
Specifications for the National Healthcare Agreement Indicators are available on the AIHW online metadata registry, METEOR.
A number of different mental health indicator sets have been developed over time to measure the performance of the mental health system. Performance indicators are generally developed for a specific purpose, for example, measuring changes after commitment to a national strategy. The indicator sets can be viewed in terms of what aspects of health performance they measure using the National Mental Health Performance Framework which includes broad domains spanning areas such as safety and accessibility.
Mental health indicator sets include:
National Targets and Indicators for Mental Health Reform, National Mental Health Commission Expert Reference Group (ERG). National Mental Health Commission (NMHC) Review National Mental Health Commission; 2015; data not published.
Overall health and the impact on life
Factors that have an impact on health
Health system performance
MHS PI 16: Aspects of recovery for children and adolescents according to parents/carers (141KB Doc)
† Since 2013, this indicator has been reported by the Productivity Commission.
* Indicates where several indicators with different technical definitions, including a range of sub-groups (e.g. by Indigenous status, child and adolescents) have been grouped into a single indicator title.
You may also be interested in:
AIHW 2021. Indicators of Australia’s welfare. Australia's Welfare 2021. Viewed 18 November 2022.
COAG (Council of Australian Governments) 2012. National Healthcare Agreement. COAG, Canberra.
NMHPSC (National Mental Health Performance Subcommittee) 2013. Key Performance Indicators for Australian Public Mental Health Services, Third Edition, AIHW, Canberra. Viewed 18 November 2022.
Pencheon 2007. The Good Indicators Guide: Understanding How to Use and Choose Indicators. NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement. Viewed 18 November 2022.
QRI (Quality Research International) 2021. Social Research Glossary. Viewed 18 November 2022.
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