Guest Post by Professor Sallie Pearson - Punching below our weight: when data lies dormant

Thanks to a billion-dollar annual investment in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) the bulk of Australia’s prescription medicine use is subsidised. One obvious benefit to this is that prescription medicine is more affordable for Australians. A less obvious benefit is that routinely collected PBS data provides comprehensive representation of prescription medicine use at a population level. This makes it an extraordinarily valuable data resource. The linkage of PBS, MBS and other Commonwealth collections, such as those held by the Department of Social Services, can expand our opportunities to explore value, real-world use and pivotal issues such as equity of access.

Primary and Secondary Uses of Health Data

Data is the primary resource - the life blood -  that drives evidence-based health and medical (H&M) research.  Traditionally, data collected explicitly for a clinical trial, designed to answer specific questions on behavioural or bio-medical questions, served as the primary research data for H&M researchers.  This practice started when administrative health data was not readily available in computable electronic format.