Governance of primary health care data on Primary Health Insights

In an age where data can be used to great benefit, it is helpful for GPs and general practices to understand how patients’ and practices’ sensitive data is kept safe and their privacy protected.

Data shared by practices holding Data Sharing Agreements with WA Primary Health Alliance is stored on Primary Health Insights, the data storage and analytics platform built by 27 of the 31 PHNs that provides leading edge data security and has robust data governance embedded within its processes and structures.

Primary Health Insights is characterised by its individually secured ‘lock boxes’ for each PHN, where data is stored, analysed and reports generated using tools from within the platform. Similarly secured ‘collaboration zones’ are where PHNs can choose to share specific data sets to generate insights into focused areas of health care, all under strict data governance rules.

Further information about Primary Health Insights and how it works can be found here.

Data Governance and Data Sharing Agreements

The National Data Governance Framework, developed and used by all 31 PHNs, provides structures, mechanisms and processes to deliver a high standard of data governance.

Key features of the Framework include comprehensive policy statements and processes focussing on data privacy and security. Importantly, the Data Set Privacy Impact Assessment is mandated for every new data set uploaded to Primary Health Insights. Based on Office of the Australian Information Commissioner guidelines, this toolset provides PHNs’ data analysts with detailed instructions, tools and procedures around data sharing, managing risk of re-identification and management of data breach events.

Underlying the National Data Governance Framework are Data Sharing Agreements held between PHNs and general practices.  These specify that the shared data is contains no information that may identify patients or practitioners and will only be used for permitted purposes.

The vision for Primary Health Insights is, within strict governance rules formalised in contractual agreements, to expand its reach and capitalise on the expertise, data and resources of related organisations.  This could include research organisations and the like.  The structure of the platform with its individually secured lock boxes and collaboration zones provides a discrete, secure environment for external organisations to participate.

Further details regarding the security and governance of primary care health data is available from the Primary Health Insights web site, see Security and Governance & Privacy.  Questions may be directed to or via the web site Contact page.

Primary Health Insights