09 May 2023

Computer graphic showing sparks of lights surrounding medical symbols

Large scale, de-identified general practice (GP) patient data has been linked into existing Victorian health data sets for the first time, allowing better tracking of health trends over time and the possibility of creating predictive models to flag people at risk of hospitalisation.

VAHI’s Cardiac Outcomes linked data project team worked with the Centre for Victorian Data Linkage (CVDL) to successfully link MedicineInsight GP data into datasets held by CVDL through their integrated data resource.

VAHI CEO Dr Lance Emerson said linking the de-identified GP and hospital data is a game-changer for how health data can be used in Victoria.

“Victorians interact with general practice more than any other part of the health system, so having GP data as part of our datasets enables a much better understanding of the way people move through the system,” Dr Emerson said.

“This will help us highlight and respond to both current and future health issues in our state far more proactively than was previously possible.”

Following the successful linkage, the project team has been undertaking a thorough process of exploratory analysis to understand how patient groups interact with their GP and hospital.

Having access to more than 10 years’ worth of data means the team has been able to generate broad insights and understand trends over time, initially focusing on the pre-pandemic period.

A project working group, which includes GPs and health consumers, has been guiding the exploratory analysis and will shape more targeted analyses and product development over the second half of 2023.

One product slated for development is a proof-of-concept predictive model that can flag people at risk of being hospitalised for cardiovascular conditions, based on data recorded in the GP system. This will allow GPs to take early preventive action to keep them out of hospital.

Early insights from the linked data asset have also been shared at recent health leaders’ events, to stimulate discussion on a broader system approach that is more patient-centred and incorporates primary and acute care as part of the same response.   

While the project has been funded to focus on cardiovascular conditions, it also aims to demonstrate the broader value of the linked primary care–hospital data asset to be used to explore other chronic conditions, such as diabetes, in future.

The linkage was completed using privacy preserving record linkage techniques, meaning patient identifying details were fully encrypted before leaving the GP software system with no identifiers supplied to CVDL. Only a de-identified data set is created for analysis by the project team.

For more information about the Cardiac Outcomes project, please contact Kate Riley Sandler at [email protected]

For more information on the Centre for Victorian Data Linkage or to discuss a linkage request, please contact Sharon Williams at [email protected]