Healthcare Variation

Clinical variation is a difference in healthcare processes or outcomes, compared to peers or to a gold standard such as an evidence-based guideline recommendation. Mapping variation is an invaluable tool for understanding how our healthcare system is providing care.

Better care, Everywhere: Healthcare Variation in Practice

Banner for the Better Care, Everywhere conference

What is healthcare variation and how does it impact equity, appropriateness of care and patient outcomes?

The Better care, everywhere: Healthcare variation in practice conference will answer these questions and more over two days in the first national event dedicated to reducing healthcare variation across Australia.

Hosted by the Commission and led by high profile national and international speakers, this is the one health event you can’t afford to miss in 2020.

Join us to:

  • Hear thought-provoking speakers discuss key drivers of healthcare variation and national and local levers for change
  • Discover successful initiatives in hospital, community and residential aged care settings already reducing unwarranted variation and improving patient care
  • Find out how to analyse and act on data to improve appropriate care and explore the future of big data and its role in driving better patient care
  • Better understand how to partner with consumers and/or carers to improve appropriateness of care
  • Learn practical approaches to implementing the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (second edition): Action 1.28 (Healthcare Variation)
  • Network and attend engaging plenary sessions, panel discussions and seminars with peers from across Australia.

Who should attend:

Whether you are a frontline clinician, a health administrator, a policy maker or an academic – the conference is designed to equip you with the knowledge and skills to identify, investigate and address healthcare variation so that we deliver the right care, for the right person at the right time.

What is Healthcare Variation?

Clinical variation is a difference in healthcare processes or outcomes, compared to peers or to a gold standard such as an evidence-based guideline recommendation. For example, a higher or lower rate of a particular treatment in one area compared with another.

Some variation is expected and associated with need-related factors such as underlying differences in the health of specific populations, or personal preferences. If the variation does not reflect these factors however, it may be unwarranted and represents an opportunity for the system to improve.

Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation series

Mapping variation is an invaluable tool for understanding how our healthcare system is providing care. The Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation series illuminates variation by using data to map the use of health care according to where people live. Each Atlas identifies specific achievable actions for exploration and quality improvement.

          First Atlas (2015)

         Second Atlas (2017)

         Third Atlas (2018)

Atlas 1 (2015) map image
Second Atlas image
Third Atlas image

NSQHS Standards: Action 1.28 on clinical variation

The value of monitoring clinical variation is now reflected in the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. Developed by the Commission in collaboration with the Australian Government, states and territories, the private sector, clinical experts, patients and carers, the NSQHS Standards aim to protect the public from harm and to improve the quality of health service provision.

The Clinical Governance Standard: Action 1.28 variation in clinical practice requires health service organisations to have systems in place that use data to monitor variation in care to identify unwarranted variation and to regularly review and improve the appropriateness of clinical care.

Healthcare Variation and the Clinical Care Standards

In response to findings from the Atlas series, the Commission has developed several Clinical Care Standards (CCS). CCS are statements that describe the care patients should be offered by health professionals and health services for a specific clinical condition or defined clinical pathway in line with current best evidence These include the Cataract CCS, Colonoscopy CCS, Heavy Menstrual Bleeding CCS, Osteoarthritis of the Knee CCS and the Third and Fourth Degree Perineal Tears CCS.