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AIHW’s newest data tool

Australians can now compare their health statistics with others from around the world.

What the Tool is For

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has built a tool which can be used to compare Australian data on health and healthcare with comparable international data.

Comparing health and healthcare data between countries is important. It facilitates international comparative reporting, supports policy planning and decision-making. This enables health-related research and analysis.

Known as the ‘International health data comparisons 2018’, the data tool is novel in comparing Australia’s performance across a range of health-related measures. Data comes from the 36 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries.

To make the data more interesting, the tool provides users with interactive data visualisations. In a glance, users may compare key health indicators such as life expectancy, health risk factors and causes of death. Moreover, the data visualisations give insights into how Australia’s healthcare system compares. Users can make global comparisons on the pharmaceutical market, health insurance coverage, and waiting times for elective surgery.

Data Informs the Public

‘The data show that Australia performs relatively well across most of the indicators. For example, Australia has a life expectancy at birth of 82.5 years—above the OECD average of 80.6 years, and 6th highest among OECD countries,’ said AIHW spokesperson Claire Sparke.

From the data, other interesting facts can be gathered. For example, Australia has the 6th lowest proportion of daily smokers (12%) across OECD countries. This is well below the OECD average of 18%.

‘However, the data show that there are some areas were Australia could be doing better, such as rates of overweight and obesity’ Ms Sparke said.

Australia has the 9th highest rates of overweight and obesity. Of the 63% of Aussies who fall under this category, the condition is more prevalent among men. Australian men have the 3rd highest rate of overweight and obesity cases, just behind the United States and Chile.

A more encouraging statistic is the duration of elective surgery procedures waiting time. Australia’s are below the OECD average. For coronary bypass, waiting time in Australia is a median of 13 days, whereas the OECD fares at an average of 22 days.

‘This new data tool is an important resource, facilitating international comparative reporting, supporting policy planning and decision-making, and enabling new types of research and analysis,’ Ms Sparke said.

Data Visualisation in Australian Public Service

Other public sector agencies have also had a go with data visualisation tools. The Australian Bureau of Statistics is one. The Bureau allows users to interact with data about property prices, population projections, CPI inflation and even compare room occupancy rates of hotels, motels and serviced apartments in Australia.

According to a report published by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Data Skills and Capability in the Australian Public Service, growing data literacy is important in supporting evidence-based decision making. Hence, more skillsets like these need to be honed in government to deliver services that meet the people of Australia.

The Honourable Angus Taylor, Minister of Parliament, said, “Skills and knowledge in publishing, linking and sharing public data will help to make government services more citizen-focused.”

Click here to access AIHW’s tool.

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