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  • Health‑related classifications have multiple purposes, including the facilitation of data collection and management in the clinical setting, the analysis of data to inform health policy, and the allocation of financial and other resources. This section provides a short description of the classification systems referenced in this report.

    Australian Classification of Health Interventions

    The Australian Classification of Health Interventions (ACHI) is the Australian national standard for procedure and intervention coding in Australian hospitals.

    The National Centre for Classification in Health (NCCH) developed the ACHI based on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). The MBS is a fee schedule for Medicare services including general practice consultations, specialist consultations, surgical procedures and other medical services, such as diagnostic investigations and optometric services. The Department of Health (DoH) updates the MBS at least twice each year and these code changes are incorporated into the ACHI or the MBS codes are mapped to existing ACHI codes.

    The ACHI classifies procedures and interventions performed in public and private Australian hospitals, day centres and ambulatory settings, as well as allied health interventions, dentistry and imaging. The structure of the ACHI is anatomically based, rather than based on the medical specialty.

    To maintain parity with disease classification, ACHI chapters resemble the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th revision, Australian Modification (ICD‑10-AM chapters). The ACHI is updated biennially by the National Casemix and Classification Centre (NCCC) in line with the disease section of the ICD‑10‑AM. Use of the codes is guided by the Australian Coding Standards of the ICD‑10‑AM.

    Further information on the ACHI is available from the ACCD website.

    Australian Statistical Geography Standard

    The Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS) was developed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) for the collection and dissemination of geographically classified statistics. It is a common framework that enables publication of statistics that are comparable and spatially integrated and is an essential reference for understanding and interpreting the geographical context of Australian statistics.

    The ASGS replaces the Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) and has been utilised for release of data from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing.


    In this report the ASGS applies to the data presented by remoteness area. This is based on the ASGS Remoteness Structure which provides a geographical standard for the publication of statistics by relative remoteness (ABS 2011). It is categorised into Remoteness Areas (RAs). RAs aggregate to states and territories and cover the whole of Australia without gaps or overlaps.

    This report uses the ASGS to present data in the following categories:

    • Major cities
    • Inner regional
    • Outer regional
    • Remote
    • Very remote.

    For further information on this classification system, refer to the ABS website

    Socio-economic status

    The ABS Socio Economic Indexes For Areas Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage (SEIFA IRSD) is used to report Australian socio-economic data (ABS 2014).  SEIFA scores are calculated by taking into account social and economic indicators of advantage and disadvantage, such as education, occupation, employment, income, families, and housing, and are used to summarise the socioeconomic conditions of a geographical area (ABS 2014).

    These scores are categorised into 5 groups, referred to as quintiles, which each represent one-fifth (20%) of the population (ABS 2014). Quintile 1 is the most disadvantaged group (worst off) and quintile 5 is the least disadvantaged group (best off) (ABS 2014). A geographical area with a low SEIFA score will likely comprise of a higher proportion of people who are relatively disadvantaged and a lower proportion of people who are relatively advantaged.

    More information can be found on the ABS website

    Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System

    The Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) Classification System, developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO), assigns therapeutic drugs to different groups according to the body organ or system on which they act, as well as their therapeutic and chemical characteristics.

    The coding of pharmaceutical products within the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits is based on the ATC Classification System but with some differences as outlined in the relevant data source sections.

    For further information on this classification system, refer to the WHO website.

    International Classification of Diseases

    The International Classification of Diseases (ICD), which was developed by the WHO, is the international standard for coding morbidity and mortality statistics. It was designed to promote international comparability in the collection, processing, classification and presentation of these statistics. The ICD is periodically reviewed to reflect changes in clinical and research settings (WHO 2011).

    Although the ICD is primarily designed for the classification of diseases and injuries with a formal diagnosis, it also classifies a wide variety of signs, symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints and social circumstances that may stand in place of a diagnosis.

    Further information on the ICD is available from the WHO website.

    International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 9th revision, Clinical Modification

    The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 9th revision, Clinical Modification (ICD‑9‑CM) is based on the ninth revision of the ICD (NCC 1996). The ICD‑9‑CM was the official system of assigning codes to diagnoses and procedures associated with hospital use in Australia before it was superseded by the ICD‑10‑AM.

    International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th revision, Australian Modification

    The Australian Modification of ICD‑10 (called ICD‑10‑AM) is used to classify diagnoses in the health sector in Australia. It is used in public and private hospitals, and in community and residential mental health care services. The ICD‑10‑AM was developed in Australia by the NCCH with the purpose of making ICD‑10 more relevant to Australian clinical practice (NCCH 2006).

    International Classification of Primary Care, 2nd edition, and ICPC‑2 PLUS

    The International Classification of Primary Care, 2nd edition (ICPC‑2) is a classification method for primary care or general practice encounters accepted by the WHO and primarily used in Australia. It allows for the classification of three elements of a health care encounter in relation to the patient: reasons for encounter; diagnoses or problems; and process of care.

    The ICPC‑2 PLUS (which is also known as the BEACH coding system) is an extended vocabulary of terms classified according to the ICPC‑2, which enables greater specificity in coding. The ICPC‑2 PLUS is primarily used in the context of Australian general practice.

    The ICPC‑2 is currently being used in some electronic health records in clinical general practice, for research purposes (such as the BEACH project) and for coding self-reported health information in other statistical collections such as the ABS National Health Survey.

    Further information on ICPC‑2 is available from the WHO website and information on ICPC‑2 PLUS is available from the BEACH website.


    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2011. Australian Statistical Geography Standard (ASGS): Volume 5 - Remoteness Structure, July 2011. ABS cat. No. 1270.0.55.005. Canberra: ABS.

    ABS 2014. Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA). Canberra: ABS. Viewed June 2015.

    National Coding Centre (NCC) 1996. The Australian version of the international statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, 9th revision, clinical modification. Sydney: NCC.

    National Centre for Classification in Health (NCCH) 2006. The international statistical classification of diseases and related health problems, 10th revision, Australian modification. Sydney: NCCH.

    World Health Organization (WHO) 2010. ATC: International classification of diseases (ICD). Geneva: Viewed June 2012.