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Data sources for Primary Health Care

Data relating to primary health care provision can be used to inform future improvements and directions including workforce training, service planning and quality improvement in service delivery. Having reliable data sources is important.

Making the most of national data sets is one way that health care changes can be guided and supported to provide appropriate and timely health care in a cost-effective manner.

In the following guide a selection of data sources relevant to primary health care are provided to assist you in identifying the most appropriate data to meet your research and planning needs.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers data and information

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners perform clinical roles within community controlled and mainstream health organisations. They are often referred to according to the role associated within a specific programme or organisation e.g. hospital liaison officer, healthy living worker, outreach worker (as outlined in the Health Workforce Australia Environmental scan 2011, PDF 1.4 MB).

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency – updated workforce statistics are available for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners.

See also:
How good are routinely collected primary healthcare data for evaluating the effectiveness of health service provision in a remote Aboriginal community? Davis S, Reeve C, Humphreys JS. (2015). Rural and Remote Health (Internet), 15, 2804. Available: (Accessed October 2017)

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2015). National Key Performance Indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care: results from December 2014. National key performance indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care series no.3. Cat. no. IHW 161. Canberra: AIHW.

Allied Health data and information

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency – workforce statistics are available for the following allied health professionals, based on registered professionals: Chiropractor, Dentist, Radiologist, Occupational therapist, Optometrist, Osteopath, Pharmacist, Physiotherapist, Podiatrist, Psychologist.

Australian Institute of Health Welfare report on Allied health workforce 2012
Includes the following specialties: Psychology, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Occupational therapy, Medical radiation, Optometry, Chiropractic, Chinese medicine, Podiatry, Osteopathy.

General Practice data and information

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency – medical practitioner workforce statistics are available for medical practitioners according to registration type, state or territory, age, and gender.

General practice activity in Australia
The Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) Program, a national study of general practice activity. Active annual data collection including; GP characteristics, Patient characteristics, problems managed, management/treatment, tests and investigations. Standard and customised data analyses conducted.

General Practice Statistics
This Australian Government Department of Health website contains GP statistics by financial year, from 2001–02 to 2015–16.

Health workforce data
The Australian Government holds information on the health workforce, in particular data on general practitioners, gained through the Medicare claims system.

Medicare Australia Statistics
Links to a range of statistics available through Medicare Australia. Including: General Practice Statistics Reports, and Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) statistics  which can be used to produce MBS, Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule (PBS) and Practice Incentives Programme (PIP) statistics at Division or Medicare Local level.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)
Provide data on the performance of public and private hospitals, primary health care organisations and other agencies providing health care services to the community.

Public Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU): an interactive, freely available online service that can be used to generate tailored graphics and reports of Australian population health. Data is sourced from various providers including customised requests from Government agencies.

Sax Institute 45 and Up Study: A population based health study of people aged 45 years or more and resident in the state of NSW (approximately 10 per cent of population enrolled). The 45 and Up Study provides information on key variables such as height, weight, smoking status, family history of disease and levels of physical activity.

Nursing data and information

Nurses and midwives – statistics based on nurses registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia are made available through the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. Both total and state or territory level data are available, with stratification according to age, endorsement and notation.

See also:
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare: Nursing and midwifery workforce 2015

Primary Health Networks (PHN) data and information

PHCRIS data for Divisions of General Practice

Access Divisions Network Reporting data with a range of interactive online tools developed by PHCRIS. This information was assembled for use by Divisions of General Practice. Although this service has since been discontinued these data may be useful for others interested in primary health care and general practice.

How to make Divisions' data work for you
Learn how to use the online tool to interrogate data, create charts and conduct searches within Division and State Based Organisations (SBO )12 month reports. You can also filter data by State and Division characteristics.

Annual Survey of Divisions (ASD)
Links to all ASD published reports.

Division and SBO Profiles
Provides details for all Divisions of General Practice and State Based Organisations (SBOs), as well as links to their submitted plans and reports and other related information.

Divisions Benchmarking Tool
PHCRIS have developed a table to facilitate benchmarking, helping Divisions of General Practice to identify other Divisions with the same demographic characteristics.

Divisions Key Characteristics
A spreadsheet of information collected as part of the ASD.

Divisions Mapping Tool
This tool was designed to help identify Divisions conducting similar programmes and activities, and uses data collected as part of the ASD.

Divisions Network Reporting
Links to all Division Annual Plans and Reports available under the Outcomes Based Funding (OBF) framework and under the National and Quality Performance System (NQPS).

Fast Facts about Divisions
Looking for information about primary health care in a hurry? Then this is a must see! Based on information collected in the ASD over a number of years, these information snapshots show trends over time and provide a new way of looking at the data.

PHCRIS resources

Primary Health Care Research & Information Service (2016). PHCRIS Getting Started Guides: Introduction to… Data mapping in primary health.

Building the primary health care research workforce in Australia (2015). Jodie Oliver-Baxter, Lynsey Brown, Laurann Yen, Julie Porritt, Emma Whitehead, Ellen McIntyre. [PDF 1.0 MB]

Other useful resources

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) - Free access to a range of ABS products and data. Including:

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) - Access to a range of publications and data cubes. Including:

Australian Department of Health

Australian Health Review Volume 39 (3), 2015 contains numerous articles relating to the Australian allied health workforce and policy, practice and research issues.
OECD health resources Data
Historical and current health resource (financial and human) data for OECD countries. Includes data on Doctors and nurses (employed and graduate) estimates per population unit.


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Compiled by PHCRIS
Last updated Tue 2 Feb 2016
Suggested citation
Primary Health Care Research & Information Service (2017). Getting Started Guide: Data sources for Primary Health Care. From (Accessed 13 Dec 2017)