Introduction to the Data Exchange

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Welcome to the Introduction to the Data Exchange.


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The Data Exchange is the program performance reporting tool for a number of funding agencies, including its creator, the Department of Social Services.

It was a project that began in late 2013 and involved extensive consultation with policy areas and service providers, with the intent of streamlining the grants process.

This process informed and influenced the design decisions for the Data Exchange and made it possible to create a single, simple system that makes reporting and recording the outcomes achieved easier.

Why the Data Exchange

As the name Data Exchange suggests, it reflects the two way partnership of information sharing between funding agencies and service providers.

This enables both to find smarter and more efficient ways of improving service delivery and the overall outcomes achieved for individuals, families and communities.

The Data Exchange was designed to accommodate a broad range of service providers and the performance data needs of thousands of organisations and users and recording the outcomes achieved.

How the Data Exchange works

The Data Exchange has been deliberately structured to capture information about service delivery to clients.

When an organisation first gains access to the Data Exchange, they create at least one outlet, and attach the program activity that will be delivered from that physical, geographic location.

Cases can then be created and attached to that outlet.

Cases and sessions

A case acts like a container bringing together:

  • Clients – a client is defined as an “individual who receives a service as part of a funded activity that is expected to lead to a measureable outcome”.
  • The program activity funding the service, and
  • Sessions – A session records the type of service delivered, the date in the reporting period it was delivered, the clients that attended, and the outcomes assessed.

Sessions drive the reporting function of the Data Exchange and at least one session must be recorded within a reporting period for a report to be accessible and for the case and associated clients to be counted.

Principles of the Data Exchange – Reduction of red tape

There are three principles that underpin the function and design of the Data Exchange:

1. Reduction of red tape

The Data Exchange has reduced the amount of data items and reporting periods that had to be reported in the past.

It is a centralised place to input data, making reporting easier. It removes the need to input and support multiple systems and approaches to reporting.

It allows flexibility for data to be input either through the free web-based portal or the service provider’s own client management system.

Principles of the Data Exchange – Shift of focus from outputs to outcomes

2. Shift of focus from outputs to outcomes

Whilst there will still be some output measurements required for a number of different services delivered, the Data Exchange has shifted its focus to be more outcomes driven.

This shift of focus will capture how services are positively influencing the wellbeing of individuals and families in Australia.

These outcomes are based on what clients are achieving by using a service.

This information is collected using SCORE which has been designed specifically for the Data Exchange.

Principles of the Data Exchange – Work collaboratively with organisations’

The third underpinning principle of the Data Exchange is our commitment to:

3. Work collaboratively with organisations to support innovation in service delivery.

Organisations are able to access reports from the Data Exchange based on the information that they have entered. These reports can then be used by service providers to understand how their services are meeting the needs of their clients.

By gaining this understanding, organisations are better able to tailor and improve their programs and services to their clients’ needs.

Framework of the Data Exchange

Supporting these principles is the Data Exchange Framework.

The Framework details the information that is required by service providers to demonstrate the effectiveness of funded programs that use the Data Exchange. There are four elements to the Framework. These are:

  • The Priority Requirements
  • The Client Survey
  • The Partnership Approach
  • Population data.

The Priority Requirements

The Priority Requirements is a mandatory and minimum data set that all service providers must report.

Data includes:

  • A client record that comprises of personal details and core demographic information, and
  • Service delivery information captured in cases and sessions.

Some programs also have a small set of specific data items that are in addition to those listed. The display and reporting requirements of these extra items are determined by the services being delivered.

Client record text that appears on the slide

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Residential address
  • Main language spoken at home
  • Country of birth
  • Indigenous status
  • Disability status

Service delivery text that appears on the slide

  • What program activity it is delivered under
  • Where the service is being provided
  • Date of service
  • Service type

Privacy of client information

Privacy of a client’s personal information is a cornerstone of the Data Exchange. It is achieved through the use of a Statistical Linkage Key or SLK.

An SLK is a 14 character algorithm made up of the first four items of the Priority Requirements. The SLK allows client outcome data to be matched over time and across programs – without disclosing the identity of the individual client.

SLK text that appears on the slide

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Data of birth
  • Gender equals SLK

This means that a client’s personal information is de-identified and is not visible to the Department.

More information on SLKs and the Data Exchange framework is available in the Data Exchange Protocols and Framework documents.

The Client Survey

The Client Survey allows clients to voluntarily self-assess on their progress and provides insight on the outcomes they feel they have achieved by accessing an organisation’s services.

The MyServiceMyStory client survey is currently in pilot phase and is expected to be rolled out to all organisations from mid-2017.

More information on the Client Survey can be found in the Client Survey Discussion Paper.

The Partnership Approach

The Partnership Approach is an extended data set that service providers can choose to report. Its intent is to capture outcomes information using SCORE.

SCORE stands for Standard Client Outcomes Reporting and includes four domains. Each domain has ratings relevant to the specific categories:

  • Circumstances
    Circumstances text that appears on the slide
    • Age-appropriate development
    • Community participation & networks
    • Employment, education & training
    • Family functioning
    • Housing
    • Material wellbeing
    • Mental health, wellbeing & self-care
    • Money management
    • Personal & family safety
    • Physical health
  • Goals
    Goals text that appears on the slide
    • Changed behaviours
    • Changed confidence to make own decisions
    • Changed engagement with relevant support services
    • Changed impact of immediate crisis
    • Changed knowledge & access to information
    • Changed skills
  • Satisfaction
    Satisfaction text that appears on the slide
    • I am better able to deal with issues that I sought help with
    • I am satisfied with the services I have received
    • The service listened to me & understood my issues
  • Community
    Community text that appears on the slide
    • Community structures & networks to respond to the needs of the targeted clients / communities
    • Group / community knowledge, skills, behaviours to better address own needs
    • Organisations knowledge, skills & practices to better respond to the needs of targeted clients / communities

SCORE Assessments

It is intended that SCORE assessments be collected for at least 50% of clients to ensure a rich statistical base for reporting.

If an organisation is funded for multiple programs, they can choose to participate in the Partnership Approach for one or more of these programs.

The items that data is collected against are optional, meaning that a service provider can enter data for some or all of the items depending on the service they deliver and the information that they wish to collect.

In addition to SCORE, organisations can provide extra data which includes extended client demographic details and client needs and circumstances.

Population data

Population data is obtained from a range of government data sources. This can be compared with a service provider’s own data in the Partnership Approach reports.

This data helps an organisation to understand the surrounding population and compare this to the data they have collected via the Partnership Approach.

Partnership Approach reports will be available soon.

Reporting periods

There are two reporting periods for the Data Exchange each year.

They are the 1st of July to the 31st of December and the 1st January to the 30th June.

Data can and should be regularly entered throughout a reporting period.

Both reporting periods have a 30 day close off period where data can be reviewed and corrected if necessary before the period automatically closes.

The reporting period the 1st of July to the 31st of December closes on the 30th of January and for the reporting period the 1st January to the 30th June, it closes on the 30th of July each year.

Key Performance Indicators

The data collected in the Data Exchange helps inform the five standard Key Performance Indicators or KPI’s used in all grant agreements.

  • KPI 1: Number of clients assisted.
    Counted as the number of unique client records within a reporting period.
  • KPI 2: Number of events/service instances delivered.
    Counted as the number of sessions within a reporting period.
  • KPI 3: Percentage of participants from priority target groups.
    Measured as the percentage of the total number of unique clients who identify as being from the relevant priority target group(s) of a program.
  • KPI 4: Percentage of clients achieving individual goals related to independence, participation and well-being.
    Measured using the number of clients achieving outcomes recorded in the Goals area of SCORE.
  • KPI 5: Percentage of clients achieving improved independence, participation and wellbeing.
    Measured using the number of clients achieving outcomes recorded in the Circumstances area of SCORE.

The Data Exchange IT system

Organisations do business in different ways. To accommodate various levels of IT capability, there are three ways that data can be submitted to the Data Exchange:

  • Web-based portal
  • System-to-system transfer, and
  • Bulk XML upload.

A service provider can choose whichever option is best for them and their organisation.

Data Exchange web-based portal

The free Data Exchange web-based portal has been designed for service providers who do not have their own client management system. The portal allows them to manually input their data.

This web-based portal has been created to capture both the Priority Requirements and Partnership Approach data but it does not have other functions, such as the storing of client notes or contact information.

System-to-system transfer

System to system transfer allows service providers to use their existing client management system and automatically export their data files from this system to the Data Exchange.

To successfully complete system-to-system transfer of data, the service provider or their IT vendor will need to complete enhancements to their software in line with the Data Exchange Web Services Technical Specifications.

Bulk XML Upload

Bulk XML upload allows service providers to operate their existing client management system, and export files from this system to be converted into XML format for upload to the Data Exchange

This XML file can only be uploaded by the organisation’s administrator via the My Organisation area in the Data Exchange web-based portal.

To successfully operate Bulk XML upload some development work will be required by the service provider or their IT vendor in line with the Data Exchange Bulk File Upload Technical Specifications.

More information

More information about the Data Exchange (including task cards) can be found under the Training Resources tab on the Data Exchange website.

This concludes the Introduction to the Data Exchange.

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The Data Exchange is the program performance reporting tool for a number of funding agencies, including its creator, the Department of Social Services.

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