Lessons from the Pandemic

Kristina Turner | 29 May 2020

The global COVID-19 pandemic brings into sharp focus how timely access to linked datasets supports more efficient decision making. Australia was lauded for its management of the global health challenge with so few lives lost. Due to decisive border control, the lockdown of residential aged care facilities and the strict enforcement of social distancing.

Australia is internationally recognised for holding high quality digital data of health, economic and social value. Access to these datasets is made difficult by governance and legislative barriers. However, to understand the true impact of COVID-19 on the health of Australians, health data access is critical. Access to linked Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) data will provide visibility to disease level consequences to both patients and health system. As the country emerges from the pandemic, it is crucial that Government builds trust with the Australian people by ensuring it maintains strict data management technology and privacy techniques.

During the COVID-19 crisis, health and other forms of public data have been critical to understand and mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Data provides insight on transmission, identifying risk factors, progression and identifying management strategies. Linked data has been helpful in forecasting and decision-making and is an essential and powerful tool to improve healthcare supply chains. The key challenge has been timeliness and accessibility of available data.

As the Federal Government moves out of the first stages of its health response and addresses the nation’s major economic challenges. It is critical to maintain the current appetite for data sharing and embrace the lessons from the pandemic. It is crucial we address the vital issue of health data sharing to improves the lives of patients and the healthcare community into the future.

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