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The Clinical Indicator Program, which was introduced into the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards’ accreditation program two decades ago, has grown from one set addressed by 115 healthcare organisations to 22 sets with data received from over 800 healthcare organisations, resulting in a national database which is unique in its clinical diversity, reflecting every major medical discipline involved in hospital practice. The process for Clinical Indicator selection and review remains with the providers of the care, but the selection criteria are better defined and the evidence base strengthened. Early responses to their introduction were encouraging as improvements in patient management and outcomes were sought and achieved following review of comparative data, and some examples of these are provided. Clinical Indicator revision remains an important and major task and the original Hospital- Wide set of Clinical Indicators is now in its 12th version. The development and use of Clinical Indicators is increasing world-wide, and in Australia there are other organisations, including the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare, looking at Clinical Indicators to further understand the performance of healthcare organisations.
As clinical care changes, the challenges for the Australian Council on Healthcare Standards are to ensure the Clinical Indicators continue to reflect current practice, to retain clinician support, and also to ensure that the existence of its extensive and long-standing national clinical database is more widely known and utilised.
Abbreviations: ACHS: Australian Council of Healthcare Standards; ACIR – Australasian Clinical Indicator Report; ANZICS – Australian and New Zealand Intensive Care Society; APD – Adult Patient Database; CI – Clinical Indicators; HCO – HealthCare Organisation; PIRT – Performance Indicator Reporting Tool; RACMA - Royal Australian College of Medical Administrators.