Primary Health Insights – Secure, Safe Primary Care Data
In 2021, 27 of the 31 PHNs commenced storing and analysing their de-identified data on the new data storage and analytics platform, Primary Health Insights (PHI). The platform provides PHNs with highly secure storage and access to some of the latest technology to analyse their data and generate new insights into population health and quality improvement for general practices. This enables practices to deliver better patient care, leading to improved health outcomes.
By collaborating in the development of the platform, PHNs have been able to build and utilise an infrastructure asset which uses leading edge cyber security and has robust data governance embedded in its processes and structures. These are a practical implementation of the PHNs National Data Governance Framework, which draws on Data Sharing Agreements held with general practices, and privacy legislation, to ensure primary healthcare data is kept safe and secure.
PHI is built with individually secured ‘lock boxes’ for each PHN, where their data is stored. PHNs can conduct analysis, draw on common data sets such as census data, and use advanced analytics and reporting tools to generate dynamic, navigable reports for general practices and other key stakeholders. All of this is conducted within the platform’s secure environment.
PHNs can only access their own lock box. WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA), the operator of PHI, is not the custodian of other PHNs’ data nor has any access to data stored in other PHNs’ lock boxes.
Robust and stringent data security and access controls are in place for both cyber security and data governance purposes. Individual PHN staff use multi-factor authentication processes to use only those data sets to which they have been granted authorised access. PHNs have responsibility for enforcing the rules applying to data access.
PHI is subject to annual independent Security Reviews and Penetration Tests. These have reported the platform to be of a “mature security design” with “no suitable attack paths for an unauthenticated user”.
In future, PHNs can choose to collaborate to create new data sets to produce greater insight into specific areas of population health, by combining specified data from their local populations. This process will take place under strict governance rules in individually secured ‘collaboration zones’. Access to this data is restricted to those PHNs participating in the collaboration zone.
The vision for Primary Health Insights, within strict governance rules formalised in contractual agreements, is to collaborate with related organisations and capitalise on their expertise, data and resources to further the objectives of PHNs in improving the quality and access to primary healthcare in Australia. This could include health-focused research organisations, universities and the like.
Ownership and governance of PHI rests with the PHNs collectively through an Unincorporated Joint Venture (UJV) operating within the PHN Cooperative. WAPHA led the development and operates the platform as Lead PHN under agreement with, and on behalf of, the other PHNs nationally. Primary Health Insights was developed in 2020 with a $10 million grant from the Australian Government, while ongoing operations are funded by participating PHNs.
For further information visit www.primaryhealthinsights.org.au.