Go to top of page

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.

Foundations

The Agency was established on 30 January 2016 and began 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 the PGPA Act2 that 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 2020–21

In no small part due to the pandemic, digital health has become a vital part of a modern, accessible healthcare system designed to meet the needs of all Australians. The Agency supported this community need with an extensive COVID-19 support program, including incorporating a person’s immunisation history into My Health Record, enabling electronic prescribing and developing a new digital platform that facilitates the upload of COVID-19 vaccination records to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). These advances have helped the community keep connected to their healthcare providers and services, at a time when people have frequently experienced isolation, disconnection and uncertainty.

The Agency’s 2020–21 operational work 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 2020–213 and performance against each priority is captured in Part 2 of this report.

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 the 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. Four 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 the Australian and state and territory governments. Under this agreement, the Agency works closely with the states and territories to align the implementation of national infrastructure with jurisdictional health digital strategies and investments.

Funding 2020–21

The Agency is jointly funded by the Commonwealth ($210.9 million) and the states and territories ($29.8 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)
  • SNOMED CT-AU (clinical document specifications).

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

Portfolio and ministerial oversight

The Agency sits within the Health portfolio and is accountable to the Commonwealth Minister for Health and Aged Care, Hon. Greg Hunt MP. The Agency also reports to state and territory health ministers through the Health Council (formerly the Health Council of the Council of Australian Governments).

Our people and their location

At 30 June 2021, the Agency had 238 staff (ongoing and non-ongoing) working from offices in Brisbane, Sydney and Canberra.

Financial outcome

  • Operating loss: $7.0 million
  • Operating revenue: $231.0 million
  • Operating expenses: $238.0 million

The Agency’s financial performance, and the Australian National Audit Office’s (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. 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.