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CEO’s year in review

Photo of James Downie, Chief Executive Officer, IHPA
2019–20 proved to be a busy year for IHPA, with unexpected challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak, in addition to our regular work program.

These priorities guided the strategic direction for our work as we continued to design the pricing systems to deliver high-quality, efficient and safe public hospital services for all Australians.

Responding to COVID-19

IHPA has worked closely with the Administrator of the National Health Funding Pool to provide assistance in implementing the National Partnership Agreement for COVID-19 response.

A key part of this has been the drafting of the national costing and pricing guidelines for COVID-19, to ensure that the costs of responding to the pandemic are consistently captured across the country.

It is critical for the healthcare system to accurately capture data on the patients treated during the pandemic.

I am proud that IHPA has been able to respond swiftly to develop new coding and classification systems for reporting COVID-19 within the Australian health care system and guidelines for hospitals when coding COVID-19 events.

We also provided guidance to states and territories and public hospitals on how the costs of treating COVID-19 patients should be captured. This will provide an extremely rich set of data that will be useful to policy makers and health researchers in the future.

Key highlights

In May 2020, all Australian governments signed the Addendum to the National Health Reform Agreement 2020–25, which commences on 1 July 2020. The Agreement maintains a commitment to activity based funding and reaffirms the role of IHPA.

Our work program for 2019–20 continued to be shaped by the safety and quality measures agreed by all Australian governments in 2017. We continued reforms to improve safety and quality, including reducing avoidable hospital admissions, and working for the provision of safe, high-quality care cross the Australian public hospital system.

As well as our primary function of setting the National Efficient Price and National Efficient Cost, IHPA continued to develop and refine the many classifications, counting and costing systems and funding models, which underpin the national activity based funding system. We also used data and research to inform our best practices and performance.

In 2019–20, we continued development of a new version of the Australian National Subacute and Non-acute Patient Classification, and the Australian Mental Health Care Classification, and continued to build reporting systems to support the implementation of the new Australian Teaching and Training Classification.

Investing in partnerships

IHPA’s achievements throughout 2019–20 would not have been possible without the dedicated input and collaboration from our many stakeholders.

Responding to stakeholder needs and expectations continues to drive improvements in every area of our work. IHPA undertook a national consultation in 2019, in order to determine a best practice development cycle for the acute care classifications.


I take this opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of the Pricing Authority. I also wish to thank the Clinical Advisory Committee for their expert guidance to deliver a clinically-relevant annual program of work.

There have been several changes to the Pricing Authority team this year. I would like to thank Dr Michael Walsh, who resigned from the Pricing Authority this year. Michael was an inaugural member of the Authority, serving since 2012. We have benefitted greatly from his expertise during his tenure. I wish to congratulate Ms Jennifer Williams who has been appointed as Deputy Chair of the Authority. I am also very pleased to welcome Ms Jenny Richter to the Pricing Authority.

This year, IHPA invested in technological support for our staff. This proved to be critical in maintaining the required work performance efficiently and enabled a smooth transition to working from home when the government’s COVID-19 restrictions were in place.

I extend my thanks to all the IHPA staff for their support and commitment once again, especially during the challenging times we have faced during the coronavirus outbreak. I am delighted to be leading an agency that strives for excellence in delivering its purpose.

Year ahead

IHPA will continue to work closely with all jurisdictions and the national agencies to progress the implementation of the long‑term, key principles outlined in the 2020–25 Addendum, and continue to support funding arrangements under the National Partnership Agreement on COVID-19 Response.

In the year ahead, IHPA will continue its strategic direction as outlined in its Corporate Plan 2020–21 to ensure that we continue to deliver our core purpose.

James Downie
Chief Executive Officer, IHPA
2 October 2020