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Health services

Data and notes

Key concepts

Access relative to need: The Access Relative to Need index (or ARN index) was developed to identify variation in access at the smallest geographical level with available data—Statistical Area Level 1 (SA1). Access to primary health-care services was estimated based on travel time by road to general practitioners (GPs) and total demand on these GPs from all the populations they serve.

Cultural safety: The Cultural Respect Framework 2016–26 defines cultural safety as: ‘not [being] defined by the health professional, but is defined by the health consumer’s experience—the individual’s experience of care they are given, ability to access services and to raise concerns’.

Potentially preventable hospitalisations: Hospitalisations for conditions that can be effectively treated in a non-hospital setting are referred to as Potentially Preventable Hospitalisations (PPH). This is a key measure of the performance of the health system. In particular, it serves as a proxy measure of access to timely, effective and appropriate primary and community-based care.

Data sources

National Hospital Morbidity Database

Held by the AIHW, the National Hospital Morbidity Database (NHMD) is a compilation of episode-level records from admitted patient morbidity data collection systems in Australian hospitals. The data supplied are based on the National minimum data set (NMDS) for Admitted patient care and include demographic, administrative and length of stay data, as well as data on the diagnoses of the patients, the procedures they underwent in hospital and external causes of injury and poisoning.

The purpose of the NMDS for Admitted patient care is to collect information about care provided to admitted patients in Australian hospitals. The scope of the NMDS is episodes of care for admitted patients in all public and private acute and psychiatric hospitals, free standing day hospital facilities, and alcohol and drug treatment centres in Australia. Hospitals operated by the Australian Defence Force, corrections authorities and in Australia’s off-shore territories are not in scope but some are included.

Note: Age-standardised rates presented for the NMDS use ’65 years and older’ as the upper age group. The use of a relatively low upper age group—to avoid low numbers in smaller age groups—risks that meaningful differences in age structure are not fully eliminated, especially with regards to Indigenous and non-Indigenous comparisons. Therefore, rate ratios based on these age-standardised rates may be unreliable.

Further information is available on the AIHW website.

Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS)

The Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) data collection contains information on services that qualify for a benefit under the Health Insurance Act 1973 and for which a claim has been processed. The database comprises information about MBS claims (including benefits paid), patients and service providers.

Through Medicare (MBS items 715 and 228), Indigenous Australians can receive Indigenous-specific health checks from their doctor, as well as referrals for Indigenous-specific follow-up services. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, temporary telehealth items for Indigenous-specific health checks have been made available from March 2020 (MBS items 92004, 92011, 92016 and 92023).

The aim of the Indigenous-specific health check is to encourage early detection and treatment of common conditions that cause ill health and early death—for example, diabetes and heart disease.

Further information is available on the AIHW website.

Health services - Data tables (Dec 2022)
XLSX, 173 KB