Data access and release – researchers

IHPA recognises that access to high quality and nationally consistent health information is essential for the conduct of research and analysis and to inform the development of policies for improving health outcomes for all Australians.

IHPA’s Data Access and Release Policy outlines the principles and process in the access and release of data collected under the National Health Reform Act 2011 (the Act).

Under Section 221 of the Act, IHPA can release protected Pricing Authority data if it is satisfied the release will assist an agency, body or person to conduct research. 

Please note data access and release is not related to IHPA’s obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). For applications under the FOI Act, see IHPA’s Freedom of Information webpage.

Please see IHPA’s FAQs on the data access and release process to assist researchers in preparing an application. 

Frequently asked questions

Who is considered a researcher?

For the purpose of data access and release, IHPA defines a researcher as a person or organisation that can demonstrate they are undertaking research to improve Australian health policy. 

Certain agencies, bodies or persons listed under Section 220 of the Act may also access data where it will enable or assist them to perform or exercise any of their functions or powers. These applications for data are treated separately to applications by researchers.

What data collections are available?

Researchers may request access to the public hospital data collections held by IHPA as outlined in the annual Three Year Data Plan and as listed on METeOR, an online metadata registry operated by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Information on data items within the collections is also available on METeOR or as outlined in IHPA’s data specifications.

Data collections and items may differ between years due to ongoing refinement of the national Activity Based Funding system. Additionally, IHPA does not store data from years prior to its establishment in 2011-12. For access to data from years prior to 2011-12 or for other health data collections contact AIHW.

The table below outlines data collections held by IHPA.

Data held by IHPA

Specifications

Hospital cost data

National Hospital Cost Data Collection specifications for the current round are available here. Also consult the Australian Hospital Patient Costing Standards (which outlines how hospital products should be costed) and the Independent Financial Review (which reviews compliance with the Standards).

Admitted patient activity

Admitted Patient Care National Minimum Data Set (APC NMDS) for acute patients and subacute patients, with additional data items in the Admitted sub-acute and non-acute hospital care National Best Endeavours Data Set (ASNHC NBEDS).

Emergency patient activity

Non-Admitted Patient Emergency Department Care NMDS (NAPEDC NMDS) for emergency department patients and Activity Based Funding: Emergency service care NBEDS (ABF ESC NBEDS) for emergency service patients.

Non-admitted patient activity

Non-Admitted Patient NBEDS (NAP NBEDS) for non-admitted patients and the Non-Admitted Patient Care Aggregate NMDS (NAPC Agg NBEDS) for aggregate data on non-admitted services.

Mental health patient activity

Activity Based Funding: Mental health care NBEDS (ABF MHC NBEDS) was introduced in 2015-16. See admitted patient activity for years prior to 2015-16.

Teaching, training and research activity

Hospital teaching, training and research activities NBEDS (HTTRA NBEDS). Note that research activities were added in 2015-16.

How do I submit a data request?

If you wish to proceed with a data request for research purposes, please complete the research data request form at Appendix C of the Data Access and Release Policy.

The form should be sent to enquiries.ihpa [at] ihpa.gov.au.

Does my request need to be accompanied by ethics approval?

Generally, IHPA and Australian jurisdictions require research data requests to be accompanied with evidence of ethics approval/s. Researchers may be required to obtain additional ethics approvals or amend existing ethics approvals.

Further details and advice about what constitutes research which requires ethical review is available from the National Health and Medical Research Council.  

How is data supplied?

In most instances, IHPA will supply data through the Secure Data Management System (SDMS). The SDMS is a secure online platform that does not allow for the direct download of data.

In order to access the SDMS, researchers must undergo security training and submit documentation including a recent criminal record check. 

Researchers must undertake analysis within the SDMS and the transfer of data to or from the SDMS is only via approval from IHPA. Approval to remove data from the SDMS will take approximately three to four weeks and must not pose any risk to patient privacy and/or confidentiality.

How long can I access data for?

Researchers can apply to access data for a period of up to 12 months. Researchers can request an extension when the allocated access period is due to lapse. Extensions are granted at the discretion of the CEO of IHPA.

How are date requests reviewed?

Initial consideration of data requests is completed by IHPA. IHPA will contact the applicant following the initial review.

If a request aligns with the principles outlined in Chapter 3 of the Data Access and Release Policy, IHPA will put the request forward for consideration by Australian jurisdictions. Jurisdictions will be provided at least two weeks to comment on the request.  

IHPA may seek to have an applicant amend their request for data if it does not comply with the Data Access and Release Policy or if jurisdictions raise issues with the data request.

How long does it take for a data request to be fulfilled?

If approved, the process from receipt of a request to release of data takes at least two to three months. Complex or incomplete requests can elongate the process. It is for this reason that IHPA recommends researchers read the Data Access and Release Policy in full and consider issues like patient privacy when drafting their application.


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