Health survey info added to massive central database

Health information from a survey of more than 19,000 people across Australia has been linked to a massive integrated government database containing 32 million medicare, tax and social security records.

The ABS this week released an overview of the integration of the National Health Survey with the Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP).

More than 18,000 datasets from the NHS, which gathered information from 19,257 Australians between 2014-15, have now been linked to the MADIP, it says.

The ABS says integration of the NHS provides insights into the use of health services that can be used inform high-level policy.

“Given the high linkage rates and level of precision achieved, the linked data asset is considered highly suitable for research and analysis purposes to inform the development of health-related policies and evidence based decisions,” the ABS says.

Insights to inform policy

The MADIP was established in 2015 as a partnership between government agencies to combine information from on healthcare, education, social security payments, tax and population demographics.

The project aims to provide insights and information to inform government decision making with regards to policy, programs and services.

MADIP’s “spine”, or central linking dataset, consists of 32,152,764 person records from medicare, tax and social security records, the ABS says.

The project is a core element of the Data Integration Partnership for Australia.

The ABS is responsible for integrating data on the MADIP and providing access to authorised users, as well as safeguarding privacy.

Privacy concerns

The government released a privacy impact assessment of the MADIP last November which found it was compliant or partially compliant with a range of privacy principles, including open and transparent management of personal information.

However, action was required with regards to security of personal information, the report said.

“The large amount of personal information and detailed analytical information about individuals that the ABS holds for MADIP poses significant security risks,” the report says.

It says data integration creates a higher level of privacy and security risks, which include the data being targeted by hackers.

The report also found the MADIP was only partially compliant with the requirement to notify individuals about the collection of personal information, and partially compliant with requirements around the use of personal information.

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