3. Interoperability and Data Quality

High-quality data with a commonly understood meaning that can be used with confidence

WHAT WILL BE DELIVERED BY 2022

  • A public consultation on draft interoperability standards, leading to an agreed vision and roadmap for implementation of interoperability between all public and private health and care services in Australia will be completed in 2018.
  • Base-level requirements for using digital technology when providing care in Australia agreed with governments, peak clinical bodies and other key stakeholders.
  • Health services will be able to assess their level of digital maturity (the extent to which they are supported by the effective use of digital technology) and be supported in improving their level of digital maturity.
  • Improvements in data quality and interoperability through the adoption of clinical terminologies, unique identifiers and data standards.
  • The first regions in Australia will showcase comprehensive interoperability across health service provision, community and hospital sectors, public and private.
  • The safety and the quality of patient care will be improved by ensuring we have a connected health system that seamlessly shares high-quality data with the right people at the right time.

Supported by local and international evidence, the National Digital Health Strategy demonstrates that a digitally interoperable environment is a pre-condition for team-based, coordinated care, continuity of care, efficiency, data analytics, and positive patient experiences.

The activities outlined under this priority area seek to enable integrated care, equity of access and preventive care by connecting different sectors of the health system and enabling seamless flow of information.

This is a substantial undertaking for Australia, which will require close collaboration, and will need to be nationally led. As existing systems are upgraded or replaced over time, greater conformance to standards will be possible. Adoption requires supporting policy, procurement, and conformance assessment frameworks.

The benefits for Australians and the Australian healthcare system are:

  • There will be improved coordination of care, leading to reduced medical errors and avoided hospitalisations.
  • There will be reduced demand for services through improved self-care.
  • Duplication and operating costs will be reduced through alignment of government health gateways and infrastructure.
  • Patient and healthcare provider experiences will improve through a better connected health system.

Roles of participants in order to achieve benefits

3. Participants role index table
Healthcare consumers Drive market interest in interoperability by expecting their healthcare providers to be able to communicate with their other providers seamlessly. Key informants in assisting to define the design of future states which contribute to self care, personalised care resulting in better health outcomes.
Healthcare providers Essential information providing role to ensure their clinical and business needs are being supported by their systems, including the need to communicate with other systems. Contribute to developing and conform to standards in the evaluation criteria used in procurement processes when upgrading or replacing existing systems.
Industry & technology sector An essential partner in developing implementable solutions that enable technology companies to innovate. Provide real world expertise in the development of implementable conformance, compliance and accreditation framework and processes.
Peak organisations Provide clinical leadership and professional advice on behalf of the needs of their members, ensuring that standards development falls in line with usability outcomes
Australian Digital Health Agency Lead the co-design of standards and specifications, and facilitate coordination of the consultation process, ensuring the development of standards which are implementable. Work with industry and healthcare providers to look at a timeframe for introducing a minimum set of requirements for medical software. Provide leadership for global standards which includes clinical terminologies as well as the unique identification of products and locations, required to support the digitisation of systems and processes.
Commonwealth Government Ensure that conformance, compliance and accreditation framework and processes are implementable within the broader health system. Provide advice on potentially including alignment of My Aged Care, Mental Health Gateway, GovPass, MyGov, NDIS, National Cancer Screening Registry and claims and payments processes. Implementation of a new data sharing and release framework.
State and territory governments Co-design standards with a focus on ensuring the needs of health and care facilities and patients are met. Contribute to developing and conform to standards in the evaluation criteria used in procurement processes when upgrading or replacing existing systems.

3.1 Clinical information exchange through interoperability

Enable the meaningful exchange of clinical information between health and care providers, the systems they use, and the people they care for through interoperability

3.1.1. National Interoperability Strategy

Co-produce and publish a National Interoperability Strategy

3.1.1 Timeline

To address the risk of uncoordinated investment in technology that does not meet a common set of standards that will exacerbate siloing in the health system, Australian governments, industry and the health sector will co-produce a National Interoperability Strategy (NIS) which will include agreed vision and blueprint for interoperability in Australia, agreed base level requirements for using digital technology when providing care in Australia with governments and colleges, agreed set of national interoperability specifications and standards, accreditation regimes, and procurement requirements.

3.1.2. Co-design standards and specifications

Enhance existing standards and specifications

3.1.2 Timeline

Current standards and specifications need to be continually enhanced, and new ones need to be co-produced as the need arises in order to provide simple, clear rules and guidance on standards across the sector, and to give clinicians access to complete, accurate health information. Standards will address types of data; clinical terminologies and classification schemes; document specifications; interface standards (e.g. FHIR); and integration and building.

3.1.3. Conformance, compliance and accreditation framework

Co-produce a conformance, compliance and accreditation framework and process

Timeline to Co-produce a conformance, compliance and accreditation framework and process

In Australia, meaningful progress has been made in establishing foundations for interoperability, including clinical terminologies and standards. However, adoption has been limited, Adherence to standards will be promoted to address lack of adoption and ensure widespread implementation of the agreed functionality of standards and specifications by co-producing a conformance, compliance and accreditation framework and process, building on existing schemes.

3.1.4. Increasing digital maturity

Helping health services increase their digital maturity

Timeline for Helping health services increase their digital maturity

Digital maturity is the extent to which health services are supported by the effective use of digital technologies, and many healthcare services currently have limited capability. Measures of digital maturity will be developed, accompanying a benchmarking and reporting scheme, leveraging international examples, aligned with jurisdictional initiatives, to establish a digital maturity support service to support health services to increase their digital health maturity.

3.2 National Health Technology Strategy

Co-produce a national health technical strategy to align existing digital health foundation infrastructure services and different streams of government technology relating to health

3.2.1.National Health Technology Strategy

Co-produce a national health technology strategy

3.2.1 Timeline

There is an eco-system of digital initiatives that are relevant to managing people’s health and wellbeing with discrete governance and management processes, including My Aged Care, Mental Health Gateway, GovPass, MyGov, the NDIS, the National Cancer Screening Registry and claims and payment processes. To address the risk of fragmentation and duplication, and to ensure the consumers of these services receive coordinated and efficient care that is simple to navigate, a national technology strategy will be co-produced. The technology strategy will be a high-level, wholeof- government strategy that will identify upcoming requirements and ensure that existing investment is optimally leveraged, describe how existing digital health foundation infrastructure services and different streams of government technology relating to health will integrate and align, and identify opportunities in order to provide a seamless experience for users.

3.3 Promote data quality

Enhance national data services to support interoperability and improve data quality

3.3.1. Enhance national data services

Enhance national data services to support interoperability and improve data quality

Timeline for Enhance national data services to support interoperability and improve data quality

High-quality data requires both strong data governance and agreement on standards for terminology, and will enable future developments including precision medicine and genomics and the tracking of the efficacy of medical devices. Working with industry participants, national data services will be continuously improved and enhanced, including the National Clinical Terminology, GS1 standards (including GTIN, GLN, Barcoding) and Supply Chain Solutions - the National Product Catalogue, Locatenet, Recall Health and eProcurement. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare will lead in improving primary health care data, with a particular focus on the development of a National Primary Care Data Asset Register. Education and engagement programs will be developed to advance adoption of national foundations, improve data quality and health information governance across the health and care system.

3.3.2. National health data governance

Build and maintain trust in the quality, confidentiality and value of health data

Timeline for Build and maintain trust in the quality, confidentiality and value of health data

The Productivity Commission has found that despite vast amounts of health data being collected in Australia, current policy settings and IT platforms result in inefficient data flows that affect both the provision of healthcare and the ability of researchers to understand and respond to public health trends. Innovative methods for data management and analytics are being actively investigated and developed across both public and private health organisations, including machine learning, text mining, artificial intelligence and rule-based engines. The Australian Government has announced reforms to harness the potential of data, including a new Consumer Data Right to give citizens greater transparency and control over their own data, a National Data Commissioner to implement more efficient data sharing and release framework, with a National Data Commissioner to oversee the public data system, and new governance arrangements to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place to protect sensitive information.

National health data access and transfer standards will be developed in collaboration with all Australian governments, the industry and technology sector, the health research community, the health sector and the health consumer groups and privacy advocates.

View the Actions Across Australia Case Study – Interoperability and Data Quality