1504.0 - Methodological News, Jun 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/06/2010   
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Developing the Sample Design for a Survey of Private Health Care Service Providers

Health care services in Australia are always a topical issue in government, media and the community, especially in light of the recent COAG (Council of Australian Governments) reforms to the health care system. The Business Survey Methodology (BSM) group is developing the sample design for a survey of private health care service providers being run by the Annual Integrated Collections (AIC) Area for the 2009/2010 reference year. The survey is part of the Annual Integrated Collections "flexible" survey program which provides a set of standard key economic measures at ANZSIC and Input-Output industry level for National Accounts benchmarking. This survey will cover private sector GPs, specialists, pathology and diagnostic imaging, allied health care services (such as dentist, optometry, physiotherapy and chiropractors) and other health care services (such as ambulance). The survey will not include hospitals nor government run facilities. The 2009/2010 cycle is the first time an Australian Business Register (ABR)-based health care services survey has been conducted. Non-ABR based surveys of allied health services and medical practices were last conducted in the 1997/1998 and 2001/2002 reference years, when external Medicare provider lists, and practitioner lists were used as frames.

From the beginning, this survey has promised to be an interesting collection to work on due to the high level of interest from external stakeholders and the list of intricate data requirements. Consultation with key Commonwealth and state government agencies and internally with National Accounts Branch, revealed a number of priority health industry data needs. These pertain to the Commonwealth Government's COAG reform agenda, Report on Government Services, specific state government issues and NAB Input-Output data requirements.The existing quality and availability of private sector data was identified as a growing concern for government agencies who through COAG reform agendas, are increasingly expected to measure, monitor and evaluate health services of non-government businesses. The survey design seeks to address these issues and inform evidence-based policy by provision of information on the following core data requirements: number and locations of businesses; practice/practitioner data; geographical data (state and regional information by key aggregate); size/structure of industry; profitability of services/businesses; labour force profile (including age and gender of practitioners); client/patient profile (age and gender); and service delivery. While internal to the ABS, the survey will provide updated Input-Output Industry Group (IOIG) benchmarks for supply-use and input-output programs to the National Accounts Branch. Due to the relatively large number of data requirements, BSM has been juggling extensive stratification to ensure key estimates are produced at a good quality. An interesting stratification variable for this survey is geography, which divides the sample into capital city and suburbs, rural and remote areas, using business postcodes available on the ABR frame. The survey frame is also stratified by a flag for GPs which identifies businesses as either GP practices or GP practitioners. The flag was derived by a combination of employment size, type of legal organisation (TOLO) and manual investigation and will be used to meet data requirements on GP practices.

The survey is due to go into the field in July/August 2010, with publication of results sometime in 2011.

For more information, please contact Kristy Naylor on (03) 9615 7042 or kristy.naylor@abs.gov.au.