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Data Analytics to Aid in COVID-19 Decision-making in Australia

The Australian Government Department of Health will use a Swedish business analytics platform’s technology to deliver data analytics capabilities in support of the Department’s reporting of COVID-19 related information to key stakeholders.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in Australia, the Department of Health has been using the firm’s platform to provide health offices with a clear perspective on COVID-19 related statistics. The company’s data visualisation and analytics solutions underpin COVID-19 public announcements, pandemic incident management and COVID-19 updates on the Department of Health website.

The Department needed a rapid data solution that was external facing, easily adaptable and could support the National Incident Room to provide curated data daily, to keep the Australian public informed on the unfolding pandemic.

The company offered an end-to-end solution, allowing the Department to join many disparate datasets quickly and produce a range of reporting formats. They provided a prototype platform to the Department at the onset of the pandemic, with a live public website available shortly after to provide information to support approximately half a million hits a day.

The solutions were used across a range of areas, including COVID-19 public service announcements and an Informatic Placement — a manually constructed visual dashboard that highlighted key figures related to the spread of COVID-19. This was later updated to enable automated reporting, reducing time spent by staff in the National Incident Room to curate the information by five to six hours daily.

Pandemic Incident Management (PIM), a user-centric dashboard that was created by combining different data models and the company’s apps to create analytics for internal use was also provided.

For its work, the Australian Government Department of Health was presented with the firm’s Excellence in Healthcare Award at the company’s Australia and New Zealand Health & Public Sector Digital Transformation Awards 2021.

Australia’s COVID-19 response has been the envy of countries around the world, one article notes. Even after experiencing a second surge of cases between May and October last year, the country adapted quickly and cases have not gone beyond the 1,000 mark since.

Data dashboards have proved useful in the fight against COVID-19, specifically in the area of decision making. In the US, NYU Langone Health’s source-of-truth dataset and de-identified COVID-19 data repository enabled operational leadership to make informed decisions regarding resource allocation and strategic planning.

The Director of Industry Solutions for Healthcare and Public Sector at the company stated that Australia’s well-regarded approach to the COVID-19 pandemic can be attributed to a well-coordinated and collaborative effort across government, the healthcare sector and the private sector, which was underpinned by data-driven decision-making.

“This enabled the government to swiftly act and provide clear communication to citizens and state authorities on the rapidly changing situation to help limit the spread of COVID-19 within the community,” she said.

An earlier report notes that the Australian government is strengthening the country’s digital economy with a strong emphasis on technology, in the Australian federal budget for 2020 and 2021. Alongside investments in artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity and digital government services, Australian businesses are set to benefit from technology commitments to boost the country’s global competitiveness.

The Australian technology sector has welcomed the proposed allocations. The funding for enhancing AI capabilities, empowering organizations in how they can capitalise on digital data (for consumers, businesses, and for managing the environmental impact), and upgrading the country’s digital infrastructure readiness was particularly praised.

This includes allocating A$421.6 million over two years (and A$38.7 million in capital funding) to continue the My Health Record system and funding for the Australian Digital Health Agency, including for the Intergovernmental Agreement on National Digital Health.

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