Tuesday, August 17, 2010

And Just Where Will Reliable Information Come From For This?

The present Government has announced it is establishing a web site to provide comparative information on Australia’s hospitals.

Here is the original announcement.

Myhospitals Website

17 July 2010

For the first time all Australians will soon be able to view important data about their public hospitals thanks to a new website being developed as part of the Government’s ambitious health reform agenda.

The MyHospitals website will provide clear, comparable and user-friendly information about all Australian public hospitals in all states and territories, except Western Australia.

People will be able to find, at the click of a mouse, the latest data on their local hospital. MyHospitals will show how that hospital performed compared to national average waiting times for elective surgery and emergency department care, list the medical services provided, bed numbers and if outpatient services, such as allied health and dental services, are provided.

Once operational, all Australians will see – for the first time and from the one source – which hospitals throughout Australia are performing well, and which hospitals may need more targeted assistance to help lift their performance.

Holidaymakers will be able to check whether a hospital at their destination offers accident and emergency services, and expectant mums in Sydney can check whether their nearest hospital has an obstetrics and maternity unit.

Similarly, people in Launceston will be able to see how their local hospital compares against the national average waiting times for a range of elective surgery procedures, while residents in Adelaide will be able to see how many beds are provided in Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

The website is being developed by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare using the latest nationally comparable data from 2008-09. As a result of the COAG agreement in April this data has been provided with the agreement and support of every State and Territory government except Western Australia. The site will be ready in August.

Measuring and publicly reporting on the accessibility, performance, quality and safety of our hospitals is a key component of our health reform plans.

Full release here:


A day or so ago we learnt a little more.

Labor spends $2m on MyHospitals website

  • Karen Dearne
  • From: Australian IT
  • August 12, 2010 12:00AM

HEALTH Minister Nicola Roxon has spent $1.9 million on creating the "MyHospitals" website.

MyHospitals is a twin to the provocative schools comparison website MySchool launched by Julia Gillard in January.

Ms Roxon said the website - myhospitals.gov.au -would be ready this month.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare is building the website under a one-year contract to the Health Department, which includes site support until June 30 next year.

The AIHW has also been given $1.5m to boost its data management, analysis and reporting capabilities over the next two years.

Ms Roxon said the website would provide comparable, user-friendly information about all public hospitals nationwide - apart from Western Australia. The states agreed to provide their hospital data as part of the Council of Australian Governments' deal on health funding.

"Once operational, all Australians will - for the first time and from the one source - which hospitals are performing well, and which may need more targeted assistance to help lift their performance," she said when announcing MyHospitals last month.

There are plans to include private hospital data and reports for individual hospitals against a range of safety and quality measures.

See the full details.


Playfully the Croaky blog then had a huge range of experts say what content was needed.

What should the new MyHospitals website tell us?

, by Croakey

From next month, Australians will be able to search a MyHospitals website to find out information about public hospitals, according to recent statements from Health Minister Nicola Roxon and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

Roxon says we will learn how any hospital performed compared to national average waiting times for elective surgery and emergency department care, and that the website will also list the medical services provided, bed numbers and if there are outpatient services, such as allied health and dental services. The range of information available on MyHospitals will continue to be developed in the future, including providing data on private hospitals and reporting data for each hospital against a range of safety and quality measures.

What else could the website include? This is a list of discussion-starters that I suggested, and keep reading below to see a wealth of other ideas from Croakey contributors:

• how healthy is the food provided to patients and available for visitors/staff etc

• how effectively the hospital engages with Indigenous patients and communities

• the demographics of patients compared with demographics of population need (to determine relative servicing of SES groups)

• how many staff smoke, drink to risky levels, are physically active (to determine the reach and effectiveness of health promotion programs for staff)

• the range and impact of efforts to improve local population’s health

• the support available to patients from rural or remote areas

• patients’ access to parking and its cost

• what proportion of the hospital’s funding is spent on administration, clinical service delivery, population health programs, research, teaching?

And here are stacks more suggestions from Croakey contributors…

There are all a huge number of suggestions here:


In case you think this is forward looking – note this recent report.

DH reviews Dr Foster Intelligence

10 Aug 2010

The future of Dr Foster Intelligence, the UK’s best known provider of hospital performance information and analysis, is under review by KPMG on behalf of the Department of Health and Dr Foster Holdings LLP.

Dr Foster Intelligence is best known for its annual hospital guides, providing league tables of hospital performance data.

DFI was launched as a joint venture between Dr Foster and the NHS Information Centre in 2006. On 9 July the IC transferred its shareholding to the DH.

The review will explore strategic options for the future of DFI in line with government’s stated objective to create an open market in health performance and outcomes data.

This was a key aim of the recent white paper 'Equity and Excellence: Liberating the NHS', which stated the government’s commitment to an NHS "information revolution", providing patients with quality information and data on all aspects of healthcare.

Lots more here:


Of course the critical thing here will be whether useful, reliable and comparable data can be found and made available in a timely manner.

The key providers of the basic information, it seems, will be the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

See here for their site.


There is no doubt that AIHW does a great job in collecting a very useful range of statistics and indicators and their two flagship publications are highly credible and carefully put together pieces of work.

See here:


And here:


However there is a serious ‘fly in the ointment’ in all this. This blog explores the issue and reminds one of the key issue:


Bottom line, as soon as you make comparable data available there will be winners and losers and the losers will have a strong incentive to ‘game the system’.

The only way a genuinely credible system can be created is when the activity and similar statistics are collected automatically from operational systems that are used to deliver care.

I think we are all aware we are a day or so away from that being a reality!

One can only wish the AIHW luck in this endeavour. It is interesting that the proposed new National Performance Authority which was planned to measure all this information does not seem to be mentioned in the press release. I wonder why that would be?


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