Robert Tanton - Using a synthetic population to model access to health services and facilities in Australia

  • Presenting author: Robert Tanton (Communities in Numbers)

  • Authors: Robert Tanton, Neil T Coffee, Marcus Blake and Vincent L Versace

  • Session: C02D - Synthetic Data - Wednesday 11:00-12:30 - Erika-Weinzierl Hall

The objective of this project is to construct a series of openly available data sets for modelling the patterns and processes impacting the health of the Australian population. By calculating geographic access to services and facilities, this infrastructure will enable researchers, policy stakeholders and industry to better plan equitable resource allocation for the Australian population. Complementing this will be the creation of a synthetic population – this will preserve individual anonymity, while still providing detailed, geographically-located data across Australia.

While the proposed geospatial modelling will address a number of seminal and longstanding challenges faced by health geographers, it also guides and augments rapid translation in real world settings. A formal partnership between Deakin Rural Health (a University Department of Rural Health) and Grampians Health Service (located in a rural and regional setting delivering services to a catchment of >250,000 residents spanning >250 km) will deliver insights of direct relevance to the health system throughout the research process (e.g., by linking clinical datasets at address-level across geographically expansive areas). This will permit investigations such as dynamics between individual-level socio-economic status and service access, validation of synthetic populations, and scenario testing of health service use cases.

This presentation outlines the creation of the synthetic population using spatial microsimulation techniques. The synthetic population will be based on the 2021 Census usual resident population (URP) and will impute demographic, economic, social and health data from other sources. The synthetic households and people will then be imputed to an address on the Australian Geocoded National Address File (GNAF).

This is a long term project over late 2023 and 2024, so this presentation will be on the method, and preliminary results if they are available.