The AIHW received funding in the May 2018 Federal Budget to develop an enduring National Primary Health Care Data Asset (Data Asset). The Data Asset is proposed to be inclusive of the breadth of primary health care data and practice (for example, general practitioner, allied health and nursing activity data). The Data Asset will hold national level information about primary care to improve understanding of the patient health care journey and to support research, policy and service planning.
The vision for and value of the Data Asset is that it will:
The initial scope of the Data Asset will be the collection, analysis and reporting of general practice activity data, with a view to develop and incorporate broader primary care data from nursing and allied health care, into the Data Asset as soon as practicable.
The AIHW will lead the development of the Data Asset, and will work with relevant parties to ensure that the data is of a consistently high standard. Development of the Data Asset will be incremental and take into consideration all the work currently occurring in the sector.
Following substantial consultation across the primary health care sector, and an assessment of existing and emerging infrastructure, governance models and collaboration, AIHW are pursuing the development of the Data Asset in the Primary Health Insights (PHI) platform, led by the Western Australian Primary Health Alliance.
This approach leverages existing Commonwealth-funded infrastructure in PHI and builds on existing governance and partnership arrangements with participating Primary Health Networks.
PHI is a highly secure national data storage and analytics system designed to host the primary care data of Primary Health Networks across Australia. It brings together data governance, advanced analytics, an industry leading secure data platform and a community of primary health informatics experts across the PHNs to support general practices in using their data.
The platform is being built using Microsoft Azure public cloud technology, with each participating PHN having its own secure “lock-box” for the hosting of their own data, with complete control over access to and use of the data. Security and PHN data sovereignty have been paramount considerations when designing the platform.
After a successful pilot phase, the PHI platform is expected to be operational from the end March 2021. For more information on PHI.
One of the main aims of creating the Data Asset will be to fill an information gap in the primary care space through being an accessible and value-added source of publicly reported information.
The process of making the data publicly available will be incremental over time. In the first instance, the AIHW will seek to facilitate access to and reporting of data by the AIHW and Primary Health Networks, and then by third parties (for example, other policy makers and researchers).
While initially the focus of the Data Asset’s development will be existing general practice data (including from rural and remote areas), AIHW will also undertake a parallel stream of work to build capacity and capability for data capture, development and reporting in other primary care sectors such as nursing and allied health.
The Data Asset will not duplicate current avenues for reporting of primary health care data through existing sources and will not impinge and compete with established governance arrangements. It will be built on existing frameworks and infrastructure, data sources and governance processes and identify primary health care data gaps and new sources to fill them.
As an information agency, the AIHW relies upon strong data governance to perform its functions effectively and maintain a trusted reputation amongst its many data suppliers, data users and other stakeholders. The AIHW’s system of governance is described in the AIHW Data Governance Framework 2020 which is additionally supported by a range of internal and external guidelines and policies. Robust and transparent data governance and standards will underpin the Data Asset. The governance arrangements will be reviewed through the development of the Data Asset, particularly in relation to specific data custodianship requirements including data access and release.
The Primary Health Insights platform has been designed and built around a principle of PHN sovereignty—each PHN will determine access to data in their own “lock-box” on the platform. Based on this principle, each PHN would need to agree to terms and conditions for the use of their data in the shared data collaboration zone of the PHI platform. This is consistent with requirements under the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987 (AIHW Act) which recognises that the AIHW must comply with the data supplier’s terms and conditions of data use.
While decision making in relation to the Data Asset remains the responsibility of the AIHW, three AIHW advisory committees will provide high-level strategic advice and input to the development of the Data Asset including the newly established National Primary Health Care Data Asset Steering Committee, the Primary Healthcare Advisory Committee and the Strategic Committee for National Health Information.
The AIHW is a major national agency established under the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Act 1987 (AIHW Act) as an independent statutory body to collect and produce information and statistics on Australia’s health and welfare. The AIHW produces authoritative and accessible information and statistics to inform and support better policy and service delivery decisions, leading to better health and wellbeing for all Australians.
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