The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has launched a web portal, www.myhospitals.gov.au, which contains performance information of 922 hospitals in the country.
Alison Verhoeven, Senior Executive at Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), told FutureGov Asia Pacific that the web site is expected to introduce a new level of transparency and accountability in Australia’s healthcare sector.
Users of the portal will be able to search for hospitals by name or use an interactive map to find information on services offered by hospital, as well as some performance information.
The data published includes emergency department and elective surgery waiting times for financial years 2008–09 and 2009-10.
Meanwhile, admissions and outpatients’ information for 2008-09 will be updated in early 2011 when more recent data becomes available.
Verhoeven said that an important aspect of MyHospitals is helping the users interpret the data with ease.
“Detailed statistical information might not be readily understood by all users. We need to make the web site easy to understand and navigate to allow people to find the information they need,” she said.
In the initial stage, all public hospitals will be included, as well as some private hospitals. And gradually, more statistics from private hospitals will be made available.
There have already been criticisms from politicians and the media regarding concerns over accuracy and currency of the data released.
But Federal Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon assured the public that the AIHW, which is “an independent and very credible body”, had put in place checks and balances to ensure the data is reliable.
“The performance data on the website are for the most recent financial year, 2009-10,” noted Roxon. “This is the earliest these data have ever been published at a national level.”
Verhoeven added it is important to manage people’s expectations: “We are not providing real time information on how many parking lots are available or the current length of elective surgery waiting lists. For such information, they should contact the hospital or their doctor respectively,” she said.
“We provide quality information for people to understand how their local hospital performs in comparison with national averages.”
Among the 922 hospitals listed on MyHospitals, 769 are public and 153 private.
MyHospitals will be updated regularly when new statistics become available, subject to agreement by health ministers.
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