Consultation now open - Consultation Paper on the Pricing Framework for Australian Public Hospital Services 2025–26

Make a submission

National Benchmarking Portal

The National Benchmarking Portal (NBP) is a secure website-based application that provides access to data collected by the Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority (IHACPA).

IHACPA believes that open access to data, alongside appropriate privacy protections, will enable informed policy decisions and improve patient outcomes. IHACPA has made the NBP publicly available to allow these insights to be accessed by a wide audience including clinicians, hospital managers, researchers and the general public.

The benchmarking portal includes insights from data collected between 2017-18 and 2020-21. The NBP contains three areas of focus:

  1. Cost per NWAU
  2. Hospital Acquired Complications (HACs)
  3. Avoidable Hospital Readmissions (AHRs)

There are three dashboards for each area of focus. The user can explore a Cost per NWAU Overview dashboard before searching for more details via the Cost Detail and National Weighted Activity Unit (NWAU) Detail dashboards. The HAC and AHR areas of focus each provide dashboards on Trends, Activity Detail, and NWAU Adjustment Detail.

Within each dashboard the user can filter data according to their chosen state or territory, local hospital network, hospital, or AIHW hospital peer group as well as other, dashboard-specific filters.

All data is aggregated using common variables including hospitals or establishments, classification end-class, care stream and month of separation. If a user selects filters that result in a sufficiently small sample size (30 records for Cost per NWAU and 20 records for HAC and AHR areas of focus), indicators and charts are masked in order to maintain patient confidentiality and statistical robustness.

Access the National Benchmarking Portal

To help you navigate the portal, the following supporting documents and resources are available in the portal:

  • User Guide – Contains detailed instructions on how to use the NBP, with guidance on understanding the features, applying filters based on streams, care types and location, and developing graphs that draw meaningful results.
  • Technical Specifications – Specifies the data sources utilised within the NBP, and background to the preparation undertaken in the development of the portal.

It is important that users of the NBP familiarise themselves with the supporting User Guide, as it contains detailed instructions on the navigation of the dashboards and proper interpretation of the data.

IHACPA has also developed instructional videos to guide users through the portal.

Watch a practical walk-through of the portal in the following short videos to learn how to use and interpret the data within the portal.

The National Benchmarking Portal is a website-based application that provides public access to insights from data collected by the Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority. 

IHACPA is an independent agency that works in partnership with all Australian governments to improve health outcomes for all Australians.

As part of the health reforms that led to IHACPA’s establishment in 2011...

...we are responsible for setting a national efficient price for delivering public hospital services across Australia.

The national efficient price has two key purposes; to help determine the level of Commonwealth Government funding for public hospital services, and to provide a benchmark for the efficient cost of providing these services.

This is done through the implementation of ‘activity based funding’ – which is a way of funding public hospitals for the number and mix of patients they treat.

In order for activity based funding to be effective, every episode of patient care needs to be counted. 

We do this by collecting hospital cost and activity data in consultation with states and territories across Australia every quarter.

Cost data refers to the cost accrued during the delivery of an episode of patient care, categorised according to the different resources used during the episode. 

Activity data refers to the type and volume of the episodes of care.

The National Benchmarking Portal presents insights from the combination of these cost and activity datasets. To understand the data in the portal, first you need to understand how the data is standardised to allow for fair comparisons.

The insights presented in the portal use price weights and adjustments to draw comparisons between hospitals, local hospital networks, and states and territories, while taking into account the differences between these groups in terms of size, remoteness, and demographics of patients treated.

The combination of these price weights and adjustments is known as a ‘national weighted activity unit’, or ‘NWAU’.

To compare activity across hospitals, we use NWAU as a measure of hospital activity. NWAU accounts for the complexity and resource use of a hospital episode.

An episode of care with a higher NWAU value is typically more complex and more costly to deliver than an episode with a lower NWAU value.

Currently, the NBP has three measures - cost per NWAU, Hospital Acquired Complications or HACs and Avoidable Hospital Readmissions or AHRs.

In this video we discover the cost per NWAU measure.

Within the cost per NWAU measure there are three dashboards: ‘Overview’, ‘Cost detail’ and ‘NWAU detail’.

Each dashboard contains indicators that compare data for the year selected to the previous year. Comparisons can then be drawn by filtering data by ‘Year’, ‘State’, ‘Local hospital network’, ‘Hospital’, ‘Stream’ and ‘Peer group’.

Once a filter has been selected — let’s take the ‘Admitted acute’ stream as an example — the dashboards update accordingly. Let’s further narrow our search to compare children’s hospitals across the country, by clicking on the ‘Childrens’ peer group. Once this selection has been applied, only the states and territories with specialised children’s hospitals data are displayed.

Further refine your search by clicking the bars in the graph, or using the lasso tool to draw a loop around your desired values. Other ways to filter data have been noted in the National Benchmarking Portal User Guide, which is available in the portal and on the IHACPA website.

The grey bar below the dashboard headings will help you to keep track of your current selections.

The ‘Cost detail’ and ‘NWAU detail’ dashboards provide further insight into the cost per national weighted activity unit – specifically, the ‘Cost detail’ dashboard displays the cost per NWAU by end class, cost buckets, and the average cost per NWAU over time. The ‘NWAU detail’ dashboard highlights NWAU trends. You can use these dashboards to view visualisations for the current or previous year, or over time.

All graphs can be viewed in tabular form by clicking on the ‘Show table’ option. For further insight into each of the data representations, hover over the ‘Information’ icon.

Transparency is important, but privacy is too. Before data is uploaded to the National Benchmarking Portal, all of the patient information is de-identified. We do this by aggregating records that share a common variable, such as hospital or establishment, classification, stream or month of separation.

The national benchmarking portal also hides instances where the request returns statistics that are based on less than 30 records.

It is important that users of the National Benchmarking Portal familiarise themselves with the User Guide, as it contains detailed instructions on the navigation of the dashboards and proper interpretation of the data.

The ‘Glossary’ tab defines common terminology used in these dashboards. The User Guide and Glossary can be accessed via the menu in the top right corner of the portal, or on the IHACPA website. 

If you would like to learn more about the data collected by the Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority, which underpins the pricing and funding of public hospital services in Australia, visit our website – ihacpa.gov.au.

The National Benchmarking Portal is a website-based application that provides public access to insights from data collected by the Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority. 

IHACPA is an independent agency that works in partnership with all Australian governments to improve health outcomes for all Australians.

As part of the health reforms that led to IHACPA’s establishment in 2011 we are responsible for setting a national efficient price for delivering public hospital services across Australia.

The national efficient price has two key purposes; to help determine the level of Commonwealth Government funding for public hospital services, and to provide a benchmark for the efficient cost of providing these services.

This is done through the implementation of ‘activity based funding’ – which is a way of funding public hospitals for the number and mix of patients they treat.

In order for activity based funding to be effective, every episode of patient care needs to be counted. 

We do this by collecting hospital cost and activity data in consultation with states and territories across Australia every quarter.

Cost data refers to the cost accrued during the delivery of an episode of patient care, categorised according to the different resources used during the episode. 

Activity data refers to the type and volume of the episodes of care.

The National Benchmarking Portal presents insights from the combination of these cost and activity datasets. To understand the data in the portal, first you need to understand how the data is standardised to allow for fair comparisons.

The insights presented in the portal use price weights and adjustments to draw comparisons between hospitals, local hospital networks, and states and territories, while taking into account the differences between these groups in terms of size, remoteness, and demographics of patients treated.

The combination of these price weights and adjustments is known as a ‘national weighted activity unit’, or ‘NWAU’.

To compare activity across hospitals, we use NWAU as a measure of hospital activity. NWAU accounts for the complexity and resource use of a hospital episode.

An episode of care with a higher NWAU value is typically more complex and more costly to deliver than an episode with a lower NWAU value.

Currently, the NBP has three measures - cost per NWAU, Hospital Acquired Complications or HACs and Avoidable Hospital Readmissions or AHRs.

In this video we discover the HAC and AHR measures. Users can view the cost per NWAU video through IHACPA’s website or video link at the end of this video.

Let’s first look at the HAC dashboards. A HAC is a complication which may occur during a patients stay at the hospital. The NBP presents three dashboards which provide information on HACs; HAC trends, HAC activity and NWAU adjustments.

Each dashboard compares episodes with HACs to non HAC episodes or previous years episodes with HACs. The dashboards present 15 HAC categories that are further split into subcategories. These are called complication groups and are listed in the filters on the left and in the user guide.

Before we explore the filters on the benchmarking portal, let’s go over some useful definitions.

Total count of episodes.

This refers to the number of hospital admissions which led to at least one kind of HAC.

Total number of HACs — This is the sum of all HACs, encountered by all patients. Let’s use an example to better understand this definition. These five patients represent 8 HACs.

Patient 2 had two healthcare associated infections, so we recorded HAC 3 twice during their admission.

In this example the total number of episodes with HACs will be 5 and total HAC count will be 7 as HAC 3 will only be counted once for patient 2. These definitions will help you better navigate through these dashboards.

HAC rate.

This is calculated as a percentage of total episodes with HACs per 10,000 episodes.

Comparisons can then be drawn in each visualisation by filtering the data by ‘Year’, ‘State’, ‘Local hospital network’, ‘Hospital’, ‘Hospital Peer Grouping’, ‘Complication group’ and age group.

As an example, let’s select pressure injury from the complication group filter for the year 202-21. All three dashboards filter to the current selection.

Alternatively, you can select the HAC complication from the HAC by group graph available on the HAC activity dashboard. This selection helps us compare pressure injury data for the current year to the previous year.

You can further narrow the search by selecting a peer group from the list of filters or by drawing a lasso around the desired peer group selection.

Other ways to filter data have been noted in the National Benchmarking Portal User Guide, which is available in the portal and on the IHACPA website.

Let’s now explore the AHR dashboards. Let’s navigate back to periodic insights and click on the AHR tab. Just as with HACs, there are three AHR dashboards presenting AHR trends, AHR activity and NWAU adjustments.

Understanding and preventing avoidable hospital readmissions can help support better health outcomes. There are 12 readmission groups presented in these dashboards.

You can use these dashboards to view visualisations for the current or previous year, or over time.

All graphs can be viewed in tabular form by clicking on the ‘Show table’ option. For further insight into each of the data representations, hover over the ‘Information’ icon.

Transparency is important, but privacy is too. Before data is uploaded to the National Benchmarking Portal, all of the patient information is de-identified. We do this by aggregating records that share a common variable, such as hospital or establishment, classification, stream or month of separation.

The national benchmarking portal also hides instances where the request returns statistics that are based on less than 30 records.

It is important that users of the National Benchmarking Portal familiarise themselves with the User Guide, as it contains detailed instructions on the navigation of the dashboards and proper interpretation of the data.

The ‘Glossary’ tab defines common terminology used in these dashboards. The User Guide and Glossary can be accessed via the menu in the top right corner of the portal, or on the IHACPA website. 

If you would like to learn more about the data collected by the Independent Health and Aged Care Pricing Authority, which underpins the pricing and funding of public hospital services in Australia, visit our website – ihacpa.gov.au.

For enquiries regarding the NBP please email: enquiries.ihacpa@ihacpa.gov.au.

An overview of the features and benefits of the portal.

National Benchmarking Portal flyer image
Is this page useful?