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The Agency at a glance

Purpose

Better health for all Australians enabled by seamless, safe, secure digital health services and technologies that provide a range of innovative, easy-to-use tools for both patients and providers.

Focus

The Agency’s focus is on engagement, innovation, quality and clinical safety – putting data and technology safely to work for patients, consumers and the healthcare providers who look after them.

Foundations

The Agency was established on 30 January 2016 and commenced operations on 1 July 2016, with a vision of improving health outcomes for Australians through the delivery of digital innovation, health systems and services.

Enabling legislation

The Public Governance, Performance and Accountability (Establishing the Australian Digital Health Agency) Rule 2016 (Agency Rule)1 created the Agency and governs its operations. The Rule was made by the Commonwealth Minister for Finance under Section 87 of PGPA Act2 which allows for the creation of Commonwealth corporate entities. The Agency is the first in the Commonwealth to be established by this new mechanism.

Delivery priorities for 2019–20

The Agency’s 2019–20 operational plan, produced in accordance with requirements of the Agency Rule, prioritised the following programs of work:

  • My Health Record
  • Secure messaging
  • Interoperability and data quality
  • Medicines safety
  • Enhanced models of care
  • Workforce and education
  • Driving innovation

These priorities were published in the Agency’s Corporate Plan 2019–20,3 and performance against each priority is captured in Part 2 of this report.

Inherited functions – My Health Record System Operator

The Agency became the My Health Record System Operator on 1 July 2016. On that date, all of the My Health Record operations managed by the Department of Health and the resources and digital health governance activities of the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) transitioned to the Agency.

Governance structure

The Agency is a statutory authority designated as a corporate Commonwealth entity under the PGPA Act, and is a body corporate with a separate legal identity from the Commonwealth.

Information about our governance, management and accountability frameworks is covered in Part 3 of this report.

Board as an accountable authority

A 10-member Board, chaired by Dr Elizabeth Deveny, is the accountable authority of the Agency. As accountable authority, the Board sets the objectives, strategies and policies4 for the Agency and is responsible for the proper and efficient performance of the Agency’s functions.5

Advisory committees

The Board is supported in the performance of its functions by independent advisory committees. Most are established expressly by the Agency Rule:

  • Clinical and Technical Advisory Committee
  • Jurisdictional Advisory Committee
  • Consumer Advisory Committee
  • Privacy and Security Advisory Committee

One is compulsory under the PGPA Act:

  • Audit and Risk Committee

Inter-jurisdictional

The Agency operates under an Intergovernmental Agreement between members of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). Under this agreement the Agency works closely with the states and territories to align the implementation of national infrastructure with jurisdictional health IT strategies and investments.

Funding 2019–20

The Agency is jointly funded by the Commonwealth ($199.0 million) and the states and territories ($34.3 million) reflecting the commitment at all levels of government to the delivery of digital health reform.

Products and services

The Agency has a lead role in operating and developing Australia’s digital health foundations, the national infrastructure underpinning the delivery of digital health in Australia.

These digital health foundations include:

  • My Health Record system;
  • Healthcare Identifiers (HI) Service;
  • National Authentication Service for Health (NASH);
  • secure messaging delivery;
  • National Clinical Terminology Service (NCTS) including Australian Medicines Terminology (AMT) and SNOMED CT-AU; and
  • clinical document specifications.

Operating and maintaining this infrastructure is a core activity for the Agency. Part 1 provides further detail on work in this important space.

Portfolio and ministerial oversight

The Agency sits within the Health portfolio and is accountable to the Commonwealth Minister for Health, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP. The Agency also reports to state and territory health ministers through the COAG Health Council.

Our people and their location

At 30 June 2020, the Agency had 267 staff (permanent and temporary) working from offices in Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra.

Financial outcome

  • Operating loss: $26.7 million
  • Operating revenue: $223.2 million
  • Operating expenses: $249.9 million

The Agency’s financial performance, and Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) audited financial statements are presented in Part 4 of this report.

Footnotes

  1. See https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2016L00070
  2. See https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2017C00269
  3. Corporate Plan, see https://www.digitalhealth.gov.au/about-the-agency/corporate-plan
  4. Section 14(a) of the Agency Rule.
  5. Section 14(b) of the Agency Rule.