Health data have for decades been an important tool in better understanding disease, providing better care and treatment, and improving health. The recent exponential growth in the collection and availability of electronic health data presents new opportunities to advance health and medical research. The infrastructure, assets, policies and skills that enable the collection and effective use of these data have been progressing. However, health and medical researchers still report barriers preventing many of these opportunities from being realised.

To capitalise on the opportunities to improve health and make use of the ever-increasing volume of health data, Australia must develop an environment that enables the safe and secure use of patient data for legitimate research purposes – balanced with protecting the rights and interests of individuals. Collaboration and coordination within and across research disciplines will be key to achieving this.

The Australian healthcare system, like many others globally, is facing considerable challenges that if left unresolved, could threaten the health of all Australians. An ageing population, climate change and the emergence of new infectious diseases are just a few of the complex issues that will have an impact. Optimal health data infrastructure, assets, policies, and skills for use in research and across the health system will be essential elements in tackling these challenges now and into the future.

This report outlines the findings of our environmental scan.

  • Chapter 2 outlines the project approach.
  • Chapter 3 provides background on the scenarios used as a basis for developing the environmental scan, which are attached in full in appendixes C, D and E. These scenarios are then highlighted as examples in boxes throughout the report.
  • Chapter 4 provides context on Australia’s current health and medical research data landscape.
  • Chapter 5 outlines our findings on what Australian researchers’ need and require from national data infrastructure, assets, policies, and skills, which would best assist them in advancing the nation’s health through research and achieving the positive outcomes outlined in the scenarios.
  • Chapter 6 describes the key challenges faced by researchers as they undertake health research using data.
  • Chapter 7 identifies gaps and opportunities, which if addressed could help advance and optimise data-enabled health and medical research in Australia.
  • Chapter 8 considers the role of AAHMS in supporting these endeavours.
Related Information

Australia’s data-enabled research future: synthesis report

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