Data-Driven Healthcare Improvement – a snapshot

Health data plays a pivotal role in delivering effective healthcare, advancing medical research, and improving health outcomes. Monash Partners Senior Fellow, Ms Alison Johnson, profiles the Monash Partners Data Platform.

The vision of the Monash Partners Data-Driven Healthcare and Informatics Platform is to ‘improve health outcomes across our community, through data-driven innovation and care’. It aims to explore and develop a collective vision around data, specifically, opportunities to improve data quality, sharing, usage, harmonisation and linkages to drive better health outcomes.


Monash Partners led a formal priority setting process through the Australian Health Research Alliance, the national collaboration of accredited Research Translation Centres, adopting the national priorities and adding others relevant to our Partner organisations. The priorities are:

  • Create virtual or actual health data research hubs within the Academic Heath Science Centres to stimulate partnerships across academic, clinician and industry stakeholders
  • Integrate large scale data sets to undertake research and quality improvement across the primary care, acute and sub-acute continuum, including electronic medical record related activity
  • Build workforce capacity in data use for health care improvement
  • Enhance access to and presentation of registry data, and facilitate integration and linkages between registry data and other data sources, and
  • Integrate with the Monash University data platforms in order to strengthen and build our data infrastructure and systems (i.e. Helix, Secure eResearch Platform (SeRP)).

Why a systems level approach is important

There is evidence that sustained and scalable change requires a system level approach. Providing access to data, without a system to support use of this data, may not result in sustainable change.

The framework has been published and incorporated into grant applications for Monash Partners platforms and initiatives. We collaborate and mentor groups implementing the Learning Health System and are currently developing an implementation tool – a maturity matrix – to aid in further integration of this approach.

Data supporting health service delivery, research and health care improvement

Monash Partners has been involved in a number of bodies of work that have provided tools and information to assist our Partners in their delivery of health services, including:

  • A way finder for telehealth in the early days of COVID including links to key resources.
  • Guidelines to support the development of clinical dashboards, with stakeholder input from the Monash Partners Data Committee, business intelligence and clinical informatics units, as well as qualitative research, literature review and pilot projects. The guidelines have informed the development of dashboards by our Partners.
  • Implementation of CogStack – an AI and Natural Language Processing resource that retrieves and extracts information from both structured and unstructured health data and utilises embedded analytics and visualisation technologies to assist in unlocking the untapped value of data from routine clinical care. Collaborations are ongoing including discussions with national leads/experts in the community around the use of AI in health for diagnosis and screening.

At a broader level:

  • Monash Partners has co-designed Data Sharing Agreement and Principles to support the safe, lawful and efficient sharing of data for healthcare improvement across our member organisations. Attention is now turning to implementation to improve systems and processes.
  • The Digital and Data-Driven Innovation in Healthcare Graduate Research Industry Partnership, a partnership between Monash University and Monash Partners health services, has supported 11 PhD students in addressing healthcare problems through digital and data-driven innovations while building their skills as the next generation workforce in this field. Four of the cohort have already completed their PhD’s and all are employed in digital health positions in Melbourne, with several working for Partner organisations.
  • Monash University and Monash Partners are participating in the Health Studies Australian National Data Asset, an initiative which is building national infrastructure to allow researchers to access, share and reuse data from health studies, including clinical trials, cohort studies and other data valuable for research. Resources and tools to support the uptake of this project are under development.
  • And finally, the DELIVER project funded through the Medical Research Future Fund and led by Western Alliance Academic Health Science Centre and the Deakin Institute for Health Transformation. DELIVER brings together, for the first time, healthcare consumers, regional and rural health services, peak bodies, universities and primary healthcare providers across western Victoria to achieve better healthcare closer to home. Monash Partners supports the Learning Health System aspect of this project.

Data driven healthcare improvement in practice

It is one thing to develop the previously stated data models however, implementation is crucial if we want to affect change and improve healthcare. One example of our work being implemented and informing change is highlighted below:

The National Centre for Healthy Ageing (NCHA) Data Platform has utilised the Monash Partners Data Sharing Agreement and Principles as well as other frameworks such as the ‘Five Safes’ to inform the development of data access governance policies and principles for Peninsula Health and Monash University researchers, both collaborating partners to the NCHA.

Since implementing Pathway 1 (for Monash University and Peninsula Health researchers) in July 2023, researchers have been able to access research quality deidentified data sets curated from routinely collected data within the Health Service using a streamlined approach (four week turn around for core data items). 

We are currently working through Pathway 2 where we will be using the Monash Partners agreement for data access requests by researchers external to Monash University and Peninsula Health. We foresee that the agreement will be of particular value for projects involving multiple data custodians and other signatories to the agreement. 

Looking forward

So, what now? What does the future hold in the data space?

It is my belief that now is the time to have influence. To improve healthcare and health outcomes using integrated views, information, data and systems to create sustainable change. And, I encourage all to take part. Get involved. Increase the voice of those providing healthcare. Integrate research into health organisations – to link the two together to create impactful improvements.

Monash Partners can support you to make a difference.

Meanwhile, after six busy, challenging and interesting years, I am off to retirement. Wishing you all the best in improving our health system.

Ms Alison Johnson

Monash Partners Senior Fellow – Data Driven Healthcare Improvement

Learn more

To learn more about our Data-Driven Healthcare and Informatics visit the click here.