Health data

Information about health data

Whenever a patient receives care from a NT Health service provider, such as hospital or a health centre information about the patient’s health care held by the Department of Health. The Department of Health uses this information to:

  • plan for future health services through service planning and evaluation, and continuous quality improvement programs;
  • report to the Federal Government; and
  • conduct clinical, epidemiological, and social health research.

The information collected by the Department of Health is:

  • maintained in the health data collections;
  • stored in secure systems in secure locations;
  • only accessed by authorised staff members;
  • used for approved research by appropriately qualified researchers; and
  • linked to other approved data sources.

The collection of information is authorised by legislation such as the Health Services Act (NT), the Information Act (NT) and the NT Information Privacy Principles (IPP). NT Health is guided by the NT Health Privacy Policy.

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What data is collected and managed?

NT Health manages a number of hospital and health related data collections which describe the characteristics of hospitals from admitted patients and the care they receive in hospital to emergency department waiting times.  NT Health also manages primary health care data collections which comprises of remote primary health centres, NT Immunisations, Mental Health, and Alcohol and Other Drugs services.  This Health data represents significant value to researchers and NT Health.

The main health data collections are:

  • Non admitted patient data collections, several databases of information about:
    • emergency department, a collection of all presentations to emergency departments at NT public hospitals, containing activity, patient episode and waiting time data and measures.;
    • outpatient care, a collection of all attendances at outpatient departments at NT public hospitals, including allied health attendances;
    • urban primary health care, contains all occasions of service provided by public health clinics in urban areas;
    • remote primary health care, contains all occasions of service provided by public health clinics in remote communities.
  • Admitted patient data collections, several databases of information about:
    • inpatient care, a collection of all attendances at inpatient departments at NT public hospitals based on date of discharge.
  • Collections governed by Legislation of the Northern Territory Government:
  • Special Collections
    • NT Aboriginal Health Key Performance Indicators, is a collection indicators for the purpose to improve primary health care services for Aboriginal Australians in the NT.  Governed by the NT AHKPI Steering Committee.

NT Health Data Ownership

The Northern Territory of Australia (Territory) is the legal owner of all data collected by, within and for NT Health.  The Chief Executive of the Department has primary responsibility (on behalf of the Territory) for the security, management, use and disclosure of the data. NT Health delegates ownership of the various categories of data (i.e. financial, workforce, activity and patient/client level information) across the agency and therefore it is necessary to gain approval from the relevant data owner(s) prior to the use/release of data.

NT Health further separates the responsibility of data ownership based on the guiding principles of primary and secondary use of data.  Primary use data such as quality assurance or quality improvement activities, clinical audits, management of health services and teaching activities is governed by system or collection owners within NT Health.  Secondary use of data is governed by the NT Health data release guidelines.

How do I know what data is available?

Data dictionaries contain standard data definitions and data elements for use in a particular sector. The data dictionaries produced by NT Health cover the data collections within the organisation and are the authoritative sources of information about endorsed metadata and provide the basis for consistent reporting.

NT Health metadata standards in the dictionary where possible are consistent with national standard classifications. Examples include the ‘Australian Statistical Geography Standard’, developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, and METeOR, the online metadata registry for developing, registering and disseminating metadata, by AIHW.

The following are the data dictionaries for NT Health are available for researcher on request:

  • Hospital Emergency Department
  • Inpatient Activity Collection
  • Outpatient Collection
  • Urban Primary Health Care Collection
  • Remote Primary Health Care Collection

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Last updated: 15 November 2018

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