Case study – Independent Hospital Pricing Authority

Archiving and beyond: an efficient records submission process


The Independent Hospital Pricing Authority (IHPA) leveraged its transition to the digital environment and implemented an effective system to archive digital information and transfer records of archival value to the National Archives. The project has shown that there is no need to wait years between creating and archiving documents. IHPA’s proactive approach to digital sentencing has enabled the rapid transfer of archival records while maintaining their availability for internal agency access and use.

Agency overview

Independent Hospital Pricing Authority is an independent government agency established by the Commonwealth as part of the National Health Reform Act 2011. IHPA was established to contribute to significant reforms to improve Australian public hospitals. A major component of these reforms is the implementation of national Activity Based Funding (ABF) for Australian public hospitals.

IHPA's primary function is to calculate and deliver an annual National Efficient Price (NEP). The NEP is a major determinant of the level of Australian Government funding for public hospital services and provides a price signal or benchmark for the efficient cost of providing public hospital services. We undertake several major areas of work designed to inform the annual determination of the NEP, including ongoing consultation with all Australian health departments, expert advisory committees and key stakeholders.


IHPA recognises the inherent importance of creating, capturing and storing its key business records as digital records so that they are discoverable, accessible and usable. It has implemented a range of policies, processes and systems to embed digital continuity into its information and records management framework. These include:

  • mandating that all IHPA core business official correspondence and records be created and stored as digital records
  • storing documents in TRIM its Electronic Document Records Management system
  • developing internal business rules requiring creation of electronic records
  • assigning sentencing classes and appropriate metadata to all digital records
  • developing digital sentencing rules, and
  • preparing and archiving of digital records to NAA.

Project objectives

IHPA's management sought to consider the electronic document lifecycle and establish policies that would facilitate management for each phase.

document creation, usage, internal record keeping, external record keeping

IHPA’s records management team sought to collaborate with NAA personnel to agree on effective system for archiving digital information. Management wanted to ensure that IHPA complied with its archiving obligations whilst being able to immediately access the records. It determined to swiftly send records to the NAA whilst simultaneously continuing their availability for internal use. This dual use was not possible in a paper based system and can only be achieved in an electronic environment.

Project execution

The project team commenced by undertaking a risk assessment in relation to IHPA information assets under the records authority.

The result of the risk assessment was:

  1. IHPA compliance could be achieved for 13 of 14 items on the records authority by sending the papers and minutes of the IHPA Board, Jurisdictional and Clinical Committees. IHPA protected data was excluded from this project as it involved dealing with big data.
  2. By taking advantage of the digital environment, IHPA could accelerate the time taken from creating documents to sending them to the National Archive.

The project team met with NAA to determine the scope of the project and to determine the objectives from both parties.

The scope of the first annual transfer was to be the papers and minutes of three committees:

  • IHPA Board minutes (Pricing Authority minutes)
  • IHPA Jurisdictional Advisory Committee (Primary stakeholder group)
  • IHPA Clinical Advisory Committee (provision of expert advice).

NAA provided resources to assist in developing the formats and metadata. These recommendations were incorporated into IHPA’s electronic submission and this transfer proposal contained files which were then approved by NAA.

Internally, IHPA finalised documents in the internal Electronic Data Records Management System (TRIM provided under shared services by the Health Department. These finalised files were prepared for a physical digital submission by including agreed meta data and sending the files NAA on encrypted USB.

Project outcomes

IHPA has achieved its first digital transfer to archives.

National Archives agreed a structured repeatable agency approach to achieve electronic archiving.

There has been a considerable shortening of the time taken between creating a record and it being held on the National Archive.

The project has preserved IHPA’s information and should there be any future Machinery of Government changes, key documents of the agency have been preserved.

The project considered document life cycles and took advantage of a characteristic of digital records that they could be used for multiple purposes at the same time. By simultaneously using them for internal record keeping and external archive the time period between a record being created and sent to the National Archive has been reduced from years to months Use of standard routines for metadata and file format considerably reduces administration workload for all actors in the document life cycle management process. Annual submission of 2015 committees is planned for completion in 2016.

Project impact

IHPA has designed and implemented a process that can be applied to many Commonwealth agencies. The preservation of high level committee papers and minutes is a useful way of documenting issues and decisions that are taken by agencies.

The project has shown that there is no need to wait years between creating and archiving documents. In a digital environment, once documents are finalised they can be swiftly made ready for storage on the National Archive.

These concepts challenge conventional thinking but when implemented are highly efficient mechanisms to preserve the administrative decisions of the Commonwealth.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019