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.
An earlier post highlighted several of the difficulties that Australian researchers face. One of the most prominent of these is related to accessing health and medical research (HMR) data.
One would think that the process of obtaining data to conduct health and medical research in Australia would be straightforward. Unfortunately, it’s not. Researchers are constantly plagued by incessant delays and lengthy negotiations – all which stem from the fact that they have to go through a variety of different processes before their projects can commence.
Talk to most Australian health and medical researchers and they’ll tell you that data is vitally important to their work. Data can help us track population health trends and further our understanding of disease causation.