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Dr Lance Emerson
Dr Lance Emerson
CEO, Victorian Agency for Health Information

The Victorian Agency for Health Information (VAHI) has come a long way in its first 18 months.

VAHI commenced operations in January 2017 and was formally established as an Administrative Office of the Victorian Government in June 2017. Creation of a new health information agency was a key recommendation in Targeting zero, the final report of the review into safety and quality in Victorian hospitals.

We developed six strategic objectives, guided by a Statement of Expectations provided by the Minister for Health. These objectives were outlined in our first corporate plan, and we have made significant progress in 2017–18.

VAHI’s vision is for a community that is better informed about health services, where health services receive the information they need to serve their communities and provide better, safer care. Our focus in 2017–18 was on building the necessary foundations required to commence delivery on this vision.

VAHI immediately took on responsibility for a range of reports and functions that had previously been coordinated by the Department of Health and Human Services (the Department). We also developed and delivered a range of new reports recommended by Targeting zero. Inspire and the Board safety and quality report were produced for clinicians and boards respectively, to bridge gaps identified in the provision of quality and safety data.

We established a strong governance structure along with a number of advisory committees with highly experienced members to assist VAHI’s work.

We created a robust Information Management Framework and strengthened processes and oversight to ensure the quality and integrity of data and datasets.

We released our first patient experience report in February 2018, focused on the experiences of over 30,000 Victorians after their stay in public hospitals.

We commenced development on the Victorian Clinical Registry Strategy that will guide the Victorian Government’s investment in these registries.

We carried out education workshops to support clinical coders and held seminars to share information with health professionals.

We progressed our role in leading health information reforms, not only in Victoria but also nationally. This has been demonstrated through our leadership of the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council (AHMAC) National Data Linkage Demonstration Project (NDLDP) focused on improving cardiac outcomes, as well as VAHI representation on many national health information and data committees.

We launched Better safer care, a joint website with Safer Care Victoria (SCV), to provide news, information, reports and resources about the quality and safety of healthcare in Victoria.

We completed a review of the Victorian Health Incident Management System (VHIMS) and strategies are in place to improve the system so that statewide incident data will be available for the first time. With the foundations established, 2018–19 will be a year of significant progress for incident management and reporting in Victoria.

These are just some of the important steps VAHI has taken so far. But our job has only just begun.

VAHI is on a shared quality improvement journey with consumers, clinicians and health services. Having trusted, accurate, timely and actionable data is essential to helping Victorians achieve the best possible health and wellbeing.

It is critical that the information we provide meets the needs of the people who use it. From the outset, we have sought feedback from stakeholders on our reports. In April 2018 we started a formal consultation process with our stakeholders to assess how useful our data and reports are, and ways they can be improved. We are also seeking to understand what information the public require about the health services in their area.

We have ambitious plans for 2018–19 and beyond. We will begin a shift from provision of regular static reports by email, to an online portal that will provide our users with customisable, interactive data and reports. We will further develop the patient experience datasets and increase our reporting on quality and safety to the public.

We will be building on our progress in 2017–18 to become the main health data and information source for Victorian health services, clinicians and the public. We have also commenced exploring the inclusion of community health and aged care services in our reporting. Together with our partners at SCV and the Department, we can help to progress improvements in quality and safety across Victoria.

We are grateful to our colleagues across the sector for supporting our work in this first year.

I would like acknowledge the work of our peak advisory group, the Agency Advisory Committee. Chaired by Adjunct Professor David Plunkett, the Committee has provided VAHI with invaluable guidance on our work. I would like to thank the members of all of our advisory committees, who share their valuable time to help progress VAHI’s vision.

I’d like to thank Dr Diane Watson, who led VAHI as its inaugural CEO until January 2018. Diane is responsible for establishing a strong governance and management structure, building the workforce and leading the creation of our first corporate plan.

I acknowledge the Minister for Health, The Hon. Jill Hennessy MP, for the leadership she demonstrates in seeking reforms to the Victorian health system.

I also thank Department Secretary Kym Peake for her vision, support and guidance, as well as the various Deputy Secretaries and Executive Directors within the Department for their support and collaboration.

Finally, I extend my thanks to all of the hardworking and highly competent VAHI staff. Thank you for your passion and commitment to progressing VAHI’s role and helping those working to deliver better, safer care for all Victorians.

Page last updated: 20 Sep 2018