4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 28/08/2018   
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The National Health Survey is a key source of information on the health of Australians; it provides data such as prevalence of long-term health conditions, self-reported health status, health risk factors, use of health services and demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.

Each year the Australian Government spends a large amount of money on health benefits through the Medical and Pharmaceutical Benefits Schemes; however not much is known about the people receiving these benefits.

Data linkage between the 2014/15 National Health Survey and Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP) datasets such as the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) and Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) has great potential to provide context about people who use these services. This information would assist in maintaining a national health system, and ensuring services are available to those who need them.

The high level policy issues that could be informed by the enriched data source created by this linkage include:

  • The connection between people’s lifestyles, risk factors and health conditions and their Medicare service use and benefits paid;
  • The impact of health status and health conditions on social and economic participation;
  • The extent to which use of pharmaceuticals and medical services are consistent with appropriate pathways of care and meeting clinical needs;
  • Patterns of use of healthcare services for different patient cohorts;
  • Quality and safety of services provided; and
  • Validating models for provision of care.

This linkage would enable important research to determine if survey fields could be replaced by linked data items, thereby improving survey efficiency. The data would also provide opportunities for longitudinal analyses and model estimates for both small areas and small population groups.

An independent Privacy Impact Assessment has been undertaken to assess the proposed linkage, and identify and manage privacy issues raised. Key stakeholders were consulted as part of this process. For details see list of ABS Privacy Impact Assessments.

A project is currently underway to test linkage of NHS 2014/15 data to MADIP to assess feasibility of the linked data. If this proves successful, a case study will be published alongside existing MADIP case studies.

A research paper on the linkage and its quality is available.

There is already significant interest from Department of Health, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and researchers in using the linked data.