The Allied Health national best practice data sets – are we there yet?

Catherine Stephens1, Kristy Perkins

1Department of Health, Brisbane, Australia, 2West Moreton Hospital and Health Service, Ipswich, Australia

Background: The National Allied Health Data Working Group (NAHDWG), a collaboration of representatives from jurisdictions and the National Allied Health Classification Committee (NAHCC), was formed in 2016 to guide the expansion of nationally consistent allied health data collection. The addition of clinical data to the activity and administrative data of the Allied Health Minimum Data Set (AHMDS), was seen as imperative to build a clearer picture of allied health services, identify patients and conditions which allied health professionals treat; determine the effectiveness of allied health interventions and demonstrate the contribution of allied health services to health outcomes.

Methods: A series of workshops with the NAHDWG was held to identify ongoing AHMDS items, data elements from health sector national minimum data sets and additional clinical elements for inclusion, their definitions and code sets. Extensive consultation was subsequently undertaken across the public health sector in each jurisdiction.

Results: Four Allied Health National Best Practice Data Set Specifications for the Admitted Patient, Non-Admitted Patient and Non-Admitted Patient Emergency Department contexts as well as one for Non-Individual Patient Attributable and Clinical Support Activities have been developed. The data sets have been endorsed by the National Health Data and Information Standards Committee and published on METeOR, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Metadata Online Registry.

Discussion: The ability to collect nationally consistent allied health activity and clinical data is seen as a priority for allied health leaders. Drivers include the provision of standardised data allowing analysis, reporting and benchmarking to demonstrate the value of allied health services and inform service requirements and the ability to inform information technology and data system development. The endorsed data sets provide nationally recognised standards to enable the achievement of these goals. Future work will focus on implementation and use of the data items.


Catherine Stephens is an experienced physiotherapist having worked clinically in public and private healthcare settings in Australia and overseas.  She has worked in the Allied Health Professions’ Office of Queensland since 2006 and is currently the Director, Governance, Standards and Policy. She has a strong interest in the collection and utilisation of allied health data to demonstrate the value of allied health care, to inform the optimal allocation of allied health resources and to influence broader health care policy.

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