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

I’m pleased to introduce the VAHI Year in review 2018–19, where we share some of our highlights from the year, look at progress against our strategic objectives and demonstrate the impact of our work.

VAHI was created in 2017 as a result of a key recommendation in Targeting zero, the final report of the review into quality and safety in Victorian hospitals. Since then we have made great progress.

In our first year (2017–18), we took responsibility for a range of reporting functions previously carried out by the Department. We put in place the foundations that will enable VAHI to become a successful data agency and started to map out our future direction.

In 2018–19, we began progressing a range of ambitious projects to fulfil our vision of a community that is better informed about health services, and where health services receive the information they need to provide better, safer care.

Partnering for improvement

We have continued to shift performance reporting from a one-way delivery of information to a shared responsibility for quality and safety improvement. We understand that our role is not just about providing data; it is about producing the right information, in the right format, and delivering it at the right time. For this reason, we have invested heavily in seeking feedback from health services, clinicians and consumers.

We have focused on incorporating this feedback to improve our measures and reports. For example, we made changes to the Board safety and quality report such as adding an ‘in focus’ section with further explanation of measures to help board members to better understand the report. Following feedback from health services, we removed the death in low mortality diagnosis-related groups measure from our reports while we reviewed and improved it.

In 2018–19 we surveyed our stakeholders – including CEOs, clinicians from public and private health services, as well as clinical networks to understand their perceptions of VAHI’s measures and information products. The results showed strong support on the importance of VAHI’s role to help improve the quality of data provided to health services (over 80%), and to help improve the quality and safety of health care provided to Victorians (around 70%). Around seven in 10 (71%) rated VAHI’s performance an ‘excellent’, ‘very good’ or ‘good’, while 29% rate it as ‘fair’ or ‘poor’.

The results identified opportunities for reporting improvements that VAHI has already commenced and will continue to over the coming year. The aim is for VAHI’s information products to be as useful as possible to health services and clinicians in improving quality and safety.

New information products in 2018–19

In November 2018, we released Victoria’s (and indeed Australia’s) first quality and safety report for private hospitals and received an incredibly positive response. Private hospitals found it extremely valuable and, as a result, we have committed to producing it twice a year.

One of our major projects that has progressed significantly this year is the reform of the Victorian Health Incident Management System (VHIMS). We rolled out the new VHIMS Central incident and feedback management system to all eligible public and community health services and developed a new VHIMS minimum dataset for incident reporting. Victoria’s first statewide incident and feedback report is soon to be released.

In January 2019, we were pleased to add population health surveillance and reporting to our portfolio, as the Health Intelligence Unit moved from the Department to VAHI. The population-level information collected by the Victorian Population Health Survey and other tools will allow us to provide a fuller picture of Victoria’s health.

Influencing the national agenda

I’m proud of the influence VAHI is having at a national level.

In collaboration with the New South Wales Government, we led a project using linked data from the Australian Health Ministers Advisory Council (AHMAC) National Data Linkage Demonstration Project (NDLDP). We published the project’s findings in Delivering better cardiac outcomes in Victoria, Australia’s first big linked data report, which showed the potential of multijurisdictional data linkage for investigating variations in care across the country.

VAHI represents Victoria on a national working group overseeing implementation of the Australian Health Performance Framework. We have mapped existing Victorian measures within this framework and are excited to be moving towards a reporting framework that will incorporate social determinants and health outcomes data to give a fuller picture of health in Victoria.

Finally, we have contributed to the development of the latest edition of the Australian clinical coding classification through representation on the national committee responsible for classification development. Revisions to the classification were informed by previous work by VAHI on standards for additional diagnoses coding.

Looking to the future

We recently released our strategic plan for 2019–2022, which articulates the way forward for VAHI. Over the coming year, we will continue to develop our capacity for enhanced analytics to add value to the quality and safety information we report to health services. We will position ourselves to provide technical and thought leadership in areas such as data governance and data analytics.

We are developing our public reporting program to provide information to the Victorian community that is relevant, meaningful and easy to understand.

We are working to embed population health surveillance and reporting into our workplan, to continue to shine a light on the health and health disparities of Victorians.

VAHI will continue to work toward being a reliable and trusted source for information on quality and safety of the Victorian health system. Our foundational work to deliver on our stakeholders’ needs will remain core to our success.


I’d like to thank our stakeholders and partners from across the health sector for supporting our work and engaging with us. Together, we can drive improvement in quality and safety of health care for all Victorians. I would also like to thank all the members of our advisory committees for their guidance.

I acknowledge Department Secretary Kym Peake; former Minister for Health, The Hon Jill Hennessy MP; and the new Minister for Health, The Hon. Jenny Mikakos MP, for their leadership and support.

Thank you to our colleagues in the Department and SCV for your enthusiastic collaboration over the year. And finally, thank you to the VAHI staff, whose passion and dedication drives our work forwards.


Page last updated: 13 Nov 2019