"Flying Blind"
Australian Consumers and Digital Health

A report about the Australian Health Data Landscape

Health Codes and Identifiers

Lost in Transit & Translation

Australia has electronic datasets which are well coded across the public and private sectors. As with other aspects of health data in Australia, there is significant heterogeneity in relation to the use of alternative health coding schemes and, in some cases, even the way in which coding schemes are used across services.  Further information is available under the Health Information Codes link.

Due to the presence of data silos and multiple ICT systems across the health sector, consumers have a range of different health identifiers – most of them unknown to the consumer themselves. 


Nancy has no integrated identity across different health providers and systems. This means that no provider has access to a single record containing all her health data: something which makes it difficult to achieve continuity of care. The healthcare ID card below shows all the different numbers used to identify Nancy as she engages with different aspects of the healthcare system.  

Current Scenario:

  • Multiple information coding schemes are used across the health sector.
  • Multiple Patient Identifiers are used for the same consumer.
  • Multiple IDs impact reliability of data linkage and result in huge overheads in data cleansing.