Online registry targets health stats

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The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare has released a new online metadata registry that it hopes will result in more accurate health and welfare statistics.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has released a new online metadata registry that it hopes will result in more accurate health and welfare statistics.

Called METeOR (METadata electronic Online Registry), the registry is a collection of health and welfare related metadata. The new registry aims to ensure consistency, resulting in more comparable and accurate statistics, AIHW said in a statement.

"METeOR will act as a 'hub' of data standards, linking health, housing and community services data information." said Dr Richard Madden, director of AIHW. 

David Braddock, head of the AIHW’s metadata management unit, said that all statisticians knew that good metadata was the key to standardise the way data was collected and reported, and gave data proper meaning.

Madden said that with seven million records a year from all over Australia being added to the AIHW's hospital database alone, and demands for authoritative data rising exponentially, the potential for chaos was huge.

"METeOR is an absolute breakthrough in bringing order out of chaos so that not only can you compare 'apples with apples', you can compare apples harvested on a particular day, or by variety, colour, size or in any other useful way, and you would need to compare fewer of them to come up with accurate conclusions."

Another important benefit was that the technology in METeOR served to draw together Australia's community of data developers and data providers in the health and welfare fields. It also encouraged them to share ideas and information, Madden added.

"There is also the potential to use the standards in METeOR in other areas of government, and in whole-of-government approaches to metadata," he said. "METeOR could even be used as a global metadata registry for health, community services and housing assistance."

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