4390.0 - Private Hospitals, Australia, 2011-12 Quality Declaration 
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 31/07/2013   
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1 This publication contains statistical information for the 2011-12 financial year and previous financial years, obtained from an annual census of all licensed private hospitals in Australia. It contains details about the facilities, activities, staffing and finances of all private hospitals, including both private Acute and/or psychiatric hospitals and Free-standing day hospital facilities.

2 Corresponding statistics for public hospitals are compiled by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) in their annual publication, Australian Hospital Statistics 2011-12.

3 The data presented in this publication are supported by a series of data cubes to be made available on the ABS website.

4 The Private Health Establishments Collection was not conducted for the 2007-08 reference period due to ABS budgetary constraints. This represents a break in the time series for the collection. The collection was reinstated for the 2008-09 reference period.

5 Data presented in this publication for the 2011-12 reference period have been compared with data from the 2010-11 reference period.

6 A Glossary is provided detailing definitions of terminology used within this publication and the associated data cubes.


7 All private Acute and psychiatric hospitals licensed by state and territory health authorities and all Free-standing day hospital facilities approved by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aging (DoHA) for the purpose of health insurance benefits, including those registered with their respective state health authority, are within the scope of this collection.


8 Updated lists of private hospitals are received from state, territory and Commonwealth health authorities and every effort is made to include all hospitals in scope.

9 All private hospitals in Australia which operated for all or part of the reference period are included in the collection.

10 Private patients treated in public hospitals are not part of the Private Health Establishments Collection. However, public patients treated in licensed private establishments are included in the private hospitals statistics.


11 The data items and definitions in this collection are based on the National Health Data Dictionary published by the AIHW, with some additional data items requested by private hospital associations and health authorities. Refer to the Glossary for further definitions of the data items used in this publication.


Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC)

12 The ASGC was an hierarchical classification system consisting of six interrelated classification structures. It provided a common framework of statistical geography and thereby enabled the production of statistics which were comparable and could be spatially integrated. These provided private hospital statistics with a ‘where’ dimension. The 2010-11 private hospitals collection was the last to provide estimates using the ASGC.

Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS)

13 The ASGS replaced the ASGC from 1 July 2011. It brings all the regions for which the ABS publishes statistics within the one framework and is used by the ABS for the collection and dissemination of geographically classified statistics. It is the framework for understanding and interpreting the geographical context of statistics published by the ABS. The ABS also encourages the use of the ASGS by other organisations to improve the comparability and usefulness of statistics generally.

14. The 2010-11 private hospitals publication presented data on both an ASGC and an ASGS basis. This publication only provides geographical data using the ASGS and the only classifications referred to are Metro (metropolitan area of Australia, eg Sydney, Geelong) and Rural.

15 There has been a change to the method of determining the metro-rural classification in the 2011-12 publication and this has had a small impact on the number of hospital establishments classified as metro and rural. The revised method classifies establishments in centres such as Townsville and Albury as metro where before they were classified as rural. The reason for the revision is that it is considered that these hospitals operate more like hospitals in metropolitan areas than hospitals in rural areas.

16 For further information about the ASGS refer to Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS), Jul 2011 (cat.no. 1270.

International Classification of Diseases

17 The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is the international standard classification for epidemiological purposes and is designed to promote international comparability in the collection, processing, classification, and presentation of health statistics. The classification is used to classify diseases and causes of disease or injury. The ICD has been revised periodically to incorporate changes in the medical field.

18 Principal diagnosis and procedure for admitted patients are reported in this collection using the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision - Australian Modification, 6th edition (ICD-10-AM).

19 For further information about the ICD refer to WHO International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

20 Further information about the ICD-10-AM 6th edition can be found online.

Australian Refined Diagnosis Related Groups (AR-DRG)

21 In Australia, a system of Australian Refined Diagnosis Related Groups (AR-DRG) is used as a means of classifying patients for Casemix purposes. Casemix refers to the range and types of patients (the mix of cases) treated by a hospital or other health service. Each AR-DRG represents a class of patients with similar clinical conditions requiring similar total hospital resources for their treatment. This provides a way of describing and comparing hospitals and other services for management purposes.

22 This classification is used by most states and territories as a management tool for public hospitals and, to varying degrees, for their funding. The classification is becoming more widely used by private hospitals as a reporting tool. Some contracting between health funds and private hospitals is gradually incorporating charging for patients based on their Casemix classification.

23 The ABS uses this classification to produce tables that provide data on major diagnostic categories. These tables are available on the ABS website in the data cubes associated with this publication.

24 For further information about AR-DRG refer to the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) website.


25 Free-standing day hospital facilities are classified by the main income earning activity of the centre. Until 2009-10, the four main types were general surgery, specialist endoscopy, ophthalmic & plastic/cosmetic, as well as a residual "Other" category. The increasing proportion of the hospitals that were reporting in the residual category led the ABS to include six additional activities as of the 2010-11 collection. The new activities were Gynaecology, Dental, oral and maxillofacial, Oncology, Dialysis, Fertility treatment, and Family Planning. In addition, Specialist endoscopy is now included in a broader category, Gastroenterology. Other types of hospitals, for example sleep disorder clinics, are included in the residual category.


26 Chain volume measures have been used in this publication to enable analysis of the changes to income and expenditure for private hospitals over time in 'real' terms. It is considered that these measures provide better indicators of movement in real income and expenditures than constant price estimates. Unlike constant price estimates, they take account of changes to price relativities that occur from one year to the next. Chain volume measures are derived by revaluing the original current price series of recurrent expenditure for private hospitals by a specifically compiled measure of price change. The reference period for the chain volume measure is 2009. In this publication the Laspeyres input cost index for hospitals was used. This was specifically designed to measure price change in hospital recurrent expenditures. The data are consistent with the Australian System of National Accounts, 2011-12 (cat. no. 5204.0).


27 Questionnaires are provided each year to all private hospitals in Australia for completion and return to the ABS. In addition to this, for the majority of hospitals, data on admitted patients is provided to the ABS by state and territory health authorities on behalf of hospitals. For this latter component, the ABS seeks consent from hospitals to obtain the data from the authorities.


Response Rate

28 The 2011-12 reference period saw an overall live response rate of 96.1%, an increase of 3.0 percentage points compared to 93.1% in 2010-11. Acute and psychiatric hospitals increased to 97.5% in 2011-12 from 94.3% in 2010-11, while Free-standing day hospitals increased to 94.9% in 2011-12 from 92.1% in 2010-11.

29 Non-responding establishments were contacted both by telephone and follow-up letters in order to obtain the information required for the collection.

Imputation for non-response or missing data

30 Establishments which provided incomplete data were contacted to obtain the missing details. Hospital staff were asked to provide estimates in cases where records for the data items were not kept. If reasonable estimates could not be provided by the establishment, the data item was imputed by ABS staff.

31 Establishments which did not respond to the collection had all data items imputed by ABS staff.

32 The imputation strategy employed for the 2011-12 reference period utilised historical and donor imputation; based on data received in previous years (historical) and/or on the results of the data provided by all responding hospitals of the same type, state/territory and size (donor). Data from state or territory health authorities was also used to supplement the imputation of the collection data, provided the hospitals consented .

Reliability of data

33 As the Private Health Establishments Collection does not have a sample component, the data is not subject to sampling variability. However, the statistics from the collection are subject to non-sampling errors, which affect the data. These non-sampling errors may arise from a number of sources, including:

  • errors in reporting of data by respondents (e.g. misunderstanding of questions or unwillingness of respondents to reveal all details);
  • errors in capturing or processing of the data (e.g. coding, data recording);
  • estimation for missing or mis-reported data;
  • definition and classification errors.

34 Every effort is made to reduce errors in the collection to a minimum by careful design of questionnaires and processing procedures designed to detect errors and enable them to be corrected. These procedures include:
  • external coverage checks to ensure all private hospitals are included;
  • clerical and computer editing of input data;
  • error resolution including referral back to the source;
  • clerical scrutiny of preliminary aggregates and confronting them with external data sources.

Hospital Morbidity Data

35 Hospital morbidity data, providing admitted patient's details such as age, principal diagnosis and procedure, are routinely provided by hospitals to state and territory health authorities. Arrangements were made, with consent of the hospitals, for state and territory health authorities to provide the ABS with the relevant morbidity data. Any significant inconsistencies between the data collated by health authorities and by hospitals were followed up and resolved.

36 The percentage of hospitals for which hospital morbidity data was supplied to the ABS by state and territory health authorities was 96.6% for Acute and psychiatric hospitals and 91.5% for Free-standing day hospital facilities. Due to data quality issues, two smaller jurisdictions were unable to provide hospital data to the ABS for Free-standing day hospitals in the 2011-12 reference period.

Accounting Practices

37 Differences in accounting policy and practices lead to some inconsistencies in the financial data provided by hospitals. Measurement of expenditure is affected by management policy on such things as depreciation rates, bad debt and goodwill write-off. Further inconsistency occurs in cases where all property and fixed assets accounts are administered by a parent body or religious order headquarters and details are not available for the individual hospitals.


38 Each year, acquisitions in the private health sector result in changes to the number of hospitals operated by several large organisations. Ownership by some companies of a large proportion of Acute and psychiatric hospitals has impact on the amount of data that can be released by state for Tasmania, Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory, so the data for them has been combined. Consequential analysis results in the necessary suppression of other states' data. In a similar way and for the same reason, some of the more detailed data items are confidentialised to protect the small number of establishments that contribute to the data.


39 The questions relating to contract medical staff in the 2011-12 private hospital collection form were changed from those used in the 2010-11 collection, reverting to the wording used in the 2009-10 and earlier collection forms. Contract medical staff details which had been collected in 2010-11 via three separate questions were collected in one question for the 2011-12 year, which has resulted in an improvement in reporting of these details.

40 Gross and net capital expenditure have not been released in this publication. A number of factors, including the introduction of an electronic form, have highlighted potential quality issues with historical reporting of capital expenditure. As a result, these data items are being further analysed and will be released separately at a later date.


41 Some figures have been rounded and, as a result, discrepancies may occur between totals and sums of the component items. Rounding may also cause discrepancies between publication tables and data represented in the respective data cubes.


42 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


43 Other ABS publications that may be of interest include:

44 The following related publications are issued by other organisations.
  • Available from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) website:
      Australian Hospital Statistics, 2011-12
      Australia's Health, 2012
      Australian Health Expenditure by Remoteness; A comparison of remote, regional and city health expenditure, 2011
      Health Expenditure Australia, 2010-11
      Health and Community Services Labour Force, 2006 - Produced jointly with ABS
      Medical Labour Force, 2010
      National Health Data Dictionary, Version 16, 2012
      National Report on Health Sector Performance Indicators 2008
      Nursing and Midwifery Labour Force, 2009
  • Available from the Mental Health and Wellbeing in Australia website:
      National Mental Health Report, 2013
      National Mental Health Report, 2007: Summary of Twelve Years of Reform in Australia's Mental Health Services under the National Mental Health Strategy 1993-2005
  • Available from the Private Health Insurance Administration Council, Canberra (PHIAC) website:
      PHIAC A Reports - Released quarterly
      Statistical Trends in Membership and Benefits - Released quarterly

45 ABS products and publications are available free of charge from the ABS website. Click on Statistics to gain access to the full range of ABS statistical and reference information. For details on products scheduled for release in the coming week, click on the Upcoming Releases link on the ABS home page.


46 As well as the statistics included in this and related publications, the ABS may have other relevant data available. Inquiries should be directed to the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or by email to client.services@abs.gov.au.