Data Driven Healthcare Improvement

Modern health services collect and generate enormous amounts of data, much of which has the potential to contribute to the improvement of patient care and their health outcomes.

But data alone does not result in change. An integrated approach is vital to enable the use of data to improve healthcare delivery.

Work under this Initiative is split into three areas:


  • Monash Partners
  • Melbourne Academic Centre for Health
  • Sydney Health Partners

Project Partner:

  • Australian Research Data Commons
  • CogStack


Dr Robab Abdolkhani

Learning Health Systems

The Australian Health Research Alliance has prioritised the development of virtual or actual data hubs which bring together academic, clinical and industry stakeholders to create a Learning Health System (LHS).

In December 2020, AHRA received $1.9 million from the Medical Research Future Fund to test whether new technology can improve access to the electronic medical records (eMRs) of patients, and use the information to improve health outcomes and health service responsiveness and delivery during a crisis such as COVID-19.

Led by Monash Partners, the project brings together several members of the AHRA, along with Alfred Health, Monash University, the National Centre of Health Ageing (Peninsula Health), Outcome Health, King’s College London, the Australian Digital Health Agency, Digital Health CRC and Safer Care Victoria.

Researchers will use CogStack, a data extraction technology developed in Britain, and modify it for Australian settings. They hope to be able to extract information from eMRs, regardless of whether it is structured or contained within a scanned document or image, or entered into free text fields.

The project will support development a national LHS data management platform which integrates best-practice evidence, data analysis, benchmarking, and implementation. The aim is to create a learning cycle which takes practice to data, data to new knowledge and knowledge to practice.

Transformational Data Collaboration

Principal Contact: Professor Douglas Boyle, the University of Melbourne

Australia has fragmented health data holdings across all clinical domains. This fragmentation is multifactorial including legal, ethical and policy barriers and also data barriers such as inconsistencies in terminologies, data models, quality assurance mechanisms and mappings.

Three priority areas were identified for the TDC:

Data Accord and Data Sharing Agreement and Principles

Principal Contact: Dr Felicity Gallimore, the University of Sydney

Sydney Health Partners' Data Sharing Accord was developed in 2019 and signed in 2020. By standardising the information required from researchers when applying for access to de-identified patient data for use in their research, the Accord makes it easier to obtain ethics and governance approval.

The Accord is an agreement between SHP’s five major partners –Northern Sydney Local Health District, the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network (at Westmead), Sydney Local Health District, Western Sydney Local Health District and the University of Sydney.

Monash Partners has built upon this work to develop Data Sharing Agreement and Principles that also apply to identifiable or re-identifiable data. Monash Partners organisations are currently in an implementation phase with a goal for full use within 12 months.

Workforce Development

As with every other sector, the adoption of new digital technology is critical for the healthcare system. There is little point, however, in investing in the latest technology if there is not a workforce with the right roles and skills to make use of its full potential to benefit patients. There is a pressing need to improve the digital skills and capacity of healthcare workers.

AHRA is committed to building workforce capacity in data use for healthcare improvement, It plans to do this through partnership and collaboration with the Australian Digital Health Agency and its National Digital Health Workforce and Education Roadmap.

The Digital and Data-Driven Innovation in Healthcare Graduate Research Industry Partnership (GRIP), is a partnership between Monash University and the health service members of Monash Partners Academic Health Science Centre.  GRIP supports up to 15 PhD students by building their ability to address healthcare problems through digital and data-driven innovations.

A Massive Open Online Course was developed by the University of Sydney in conjunction with Sydney Health Partners and Monash Partners. This course, “Using clinical health data for better healthcare” is available for free, or for a small fee if a certificate of completion is required.

Monash Partners has developed a data section on its website with links to relevant organisations, and data related tools and information for those new to this field.

A number of AHRA organisations have developed post-doctoral fellowship programs. These early stage researchers are commonly well connected with the health setting, and are working on a number of projects to contribute towards our AHRA top three priorities for Data-Driven Healthcare Improvement.

Further training of staff in AHRA partners is occurring in a number of member universities through short courses, micro-credentialing, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in digital health and health data related fields.


To hear more, join in or participate: contact us