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Better information to drive health investment decisions

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Strengthening the use of data will prevent health decisionmakers from “flying blind”

Federal and state governments spend a large and increasing proportion of their budgets on health care. Although rising costs are partly driven by an ageing population, increases in the volume of services per patient are also a major cause, while advancing science, community expectations and defensive medicine contribute to “doing more”. The major challenge facing the Australian health care system in the next electoral term will therefore be to rein in rising costs while maintaining high standards of care and meeting new demands.

Better information about the delivery of health programs and services in Australia must drive policy responses to this challenge. Such information will inform community dialogue about our health care spending priorities and underpin decisions about when new programs, tests or treatments should be offered, continued or ended.

The past decade has seen progress towards high-quality, timely and locally relevant information required by health decisionmakers. However, if Australia is to meet the challenge of rising health care costs, the information and its effective use must be considerably strengthened — otherwise,…