Predicting unusual and unexpected surges in demand for health services

Jurisdiction: South Australia

How can publicly available data be used to predict unusual and unexpected surges in demand for health services that could be avoided and identify opportunities to intervene?

Health services perform a vital role in keeping the community healthy. People will interact with health services in a variety of different ways. For example, visiting the doctor (General Practitioner – GP), being seen at an emergency department/service, being treated at a hospital but not staying overnight (outpatient), or staying overnight in a hospital (admitted as a patient). These can be planned and scheduled in advance or unplanned visits.

There are often occasions where people do not need to attend a busy emergency department or GP but do so because they may not be aware of alternate options. Or in some cases, earlier intervention could have meant avoiding a trip to the hospital if the health problem were detected before it became serious.

There have been proven studies of activity on social media and other publicly available data sources being used to detect emerging public health events and demand for health services.

Using these types of open data, how can we predict unusual and unexpected surges in health service demand? How can health services intervene earlier, and make people aware of or funnel people towards services that best fit their healthcare needs?

Additional Information:

Other resources that may help:
• Social media / search engine trends and analytics

Entry: Challenge entry is available to all teams in Australia.

Dataset Highlight

Medicare Benefits Schedule Data

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SA Gov Emergency Department Dashboard

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South Australian Government Data Directory

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Social Health Atlas of Australia

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