Measurements for Improved Quality in Healthcare
Data from registries may be used in many ways such as for comparative studies, for healthcare quality improvement, to ensure safety of procedures, and to find best practices or underperforming hospitals. Not least is registry data important for medium to long-term research.
The handling of information in the Australian healthcare system is of particular interest due to the fast developments during the last decade and in particular over the last few years. The development has been accelerated by a major national healthcare reform and other legislative efforts. While Australia previously may have lagged somewhat, compared to the best performing countries, with regard to clinical quality registries it can now be seen as a proactive and relatively fast mover. There are several reasons for this including a conscious effort to analyze obstacles for the development of new registries. A number of important factors relating to methods for data collection, management issues, access to expertise, and funding have been identified.
The introduction of electronic health records and unique identifiers of individuals and organizations is likely to be important for future developments. As electronic information systems often are advantageous for the collection of data, this should help a positive development. Furthermore, the information strategy brought forward by the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality of Healthcare is likely to be central to the development of safety, quality and performance standards. The Commission, whose role is to lead and coordinate improvements in safety and quality in healthcare, has together with other stakeholders developed a system of indicators on safety and quality, and for the development of more national clinical quality registries this is seen as important. A specific program for the national arrangement of clinical quality registries is under way and technical and operating standards have been developed. Regular reports on the performance of hospitals and clinics have also been introduced. While the number of known clinical quality registries was 28 in 2006/2007, this had increased to 37 in 2012. Only a fraction of these, however, have national coverage.