Using MedicineInsight data for research

MedicineInsight collects and uses data on the prescribing behaviour of general practitioners in Australia.

About MedicineInsight

The Australian Government Department of Health funded NPS MedicineWise in 2011 to establish and manage a longitudinal general practice data platform to improve the post-marketing surveillance of medicine use in Australia and support quality improvement activities in general practices.

MedicineInsight is the first large-scale, national primary care data program in Australia that extracts longitudinal patient information from the clinical software used in general practice.

MedicineInsight achieves better healthcare for all Australians by:

  • supporting quality improvement in participating general practices
  • supporting the safe use of new medicines
  • informing future policy and primary care research
  • supporting a sustainable Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS).

MedicineInsight provides a rich picture of Australia’s primary health care system and is a valuable data set for public health research purposes. MedicineInsight data is only available where a research proposal is determined to be in the public good.


    MedicineInsight data

    Deidentified data are extracted from the clinical information systems that participating general practices use to manage patient records and write prescriptions. Data include information entered directly by GPs and practice staff as well as system-generated data such as the time and date that records are accessed.

    A whole-of-practice retrospective data collection is conducted when a practice joins MedicineInsight. Subsequent extractions take incremental data, enabling the development of a longitudinal database in which deidentified patients within practices can be tracked over time.


    Doreen Busingye, Christopher Gianacas, Allan Pollack, Kendal Chidwick, Alistair Merrifield, Sarah Norman, Bernie Mullin, Rachel Hayhurst, Suzanne Blogg, Alys Havard, Nigel Stocks, Data Resource Profile: MedicineInsight, an Australian national primary health care database, International Journal of Epidemiology

    Validation of the MedicineInsight database: completeness, generalisability and plausibility (December 2020)

    Alys Havard, Jo-Anne Manski-Nankervis, Jill Thistlethwaite, Benjamin Daniels, Rimma Myton, Karen Tu, Kendal Chidwick. Validity of algorithms for identifying five chronic conditions in MedicineInsight, an Australian national general practice database, BMC Health Services Research


    Can I use MedicineInsight data?

    You may express an interest in the information collected through MedicineInsight as part of our application process.  This process is overseen by an Independent Data Governance Committee.


    Involving consumers in research

    Building consumer and community involvement into your project is extremely valuable and is encouraged by NPS MedicineWise and the Data Governance Committee. Consumer and community involvement is brings together researchers and other stakeholders to make decisions about research priorities, policy and practice. Fundamentally it involves conducting research with the community, rather than to or for the community.

    The method and level of involvement of consumers will depend on what the research project is about. A number of organisations and networks facilitate collaboration between researchers and consumers.

    The Consumer and Community Health Research Network has developed helpful resources to support consumer and community involvement in health research.

    Find out more about the Consumer and Community Health Research Network

    The Health Issues Centre supports and informs consumers and the health sector to partner for health care improvements.

    Find out more about the Health Issues Centre


    General  Practice  Insights  Report

    Accessibility: these reports are currently not 'AA' accessible. If you need help to access the report, please contact us on: +61 2 8217 8700.

    The General Practice Insights Report 2017–18 analyses the de-identified data of 2.7 million patients to reveal the common chronic health conditions in general practice in 2017–18 and the clinical management the patients received.

    The report, commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Health, shows that hypertension, depression, anxiety, asthma and arthritis are common chronic conditions patients present with to GPs.

    From this report, we also know the common medicines prescribed in Australia in 2017–18 were those used to treat cardiovascular and nervous system disorders. Opioids account for 10 per cent of all original prescriptions. Common pathology tests included full blood counts, liver function tests and tests for cholesterol.

    The General Practice Insights Report 2016–17 was the first time clinical data collected from participating MedicineInsight practices were used to provide insights into general practice at a national level.

    These working papers demonstrate how clinical data from participating practices can help inform policy, research and health systems to improve health outcomes for all Australians. 

    The reports include key findings including the most frequent reasons recorded as to why patients go to a doctor, chronic conditions with which patients present to GPs, and the most frequently prescribed medicines and medical tests.


    2022 Data Governance Committee: Meeting dates and deadlines

    Final data access application deadline (3 weeks) Data Governance Committee meeting dates
    Wed, 17 Nov 2021 Wed, 09 Feb 2022
    Wed, 19 Jan 2021 Wed, 13 Apr 2022
    Wed, 23 Mar 2021 Wed, 08 Jun 2022
    Wed, 18 May 2021 Wed, 10 Aug 2022
    Wed, 20 Jul 2021 Wed, 12 Oct 2022
    Wed, 21 Sep 2021 Wed, 07 Dec 2022

    The MedicineInsight Databook

    Use the MedicineInsight Databook to help determine if the data available in MedicineInsight are suitable for your research project.

    MedicineInsight Databook

    Date published : 1 December 2021


    How do I apply to use MedicineInsight data?

    For information about applying for access to MedicineInsight data:


    Example uses of MedicineInsight data

    MedicineInsight data is being used for a range of activities, some of which include:

    • post-marketing surveillance of drugs prescribed for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes and asthma, as well as antidepressants, anticoagulants, testosterone and antibiotics
    • informing medicines policy, including a review of biological medicines used in general practice, monitoring the impact of changes to PBS restrictions for testosterone, and reviewing the use of antibiotics commonly used for respiratory tract infections
    • supporting quality improvement in general practice by comparing practice activity with best practice guidelines, in clinical areas such as diabetes, stroke, COPD, depression and antibiotic use. This allows practice staff to reflect on current practice, identify areas for improvement and see where changes can be implemented
    • primary care research, including evaluation of vaccination coverage, cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, pain, obesity and lung cancer.

    See a list of approved projects using MedicineInsight data