About Us

The Centre for Health Record Linkage (CHeReL) is dedicated to helping researchers, planners and policy makers access linked health data about people in the NSW and ACT. We host a secure, high performing data linkage system - one of the largest of its kind in Australia - which facilitates high-quality research and health policy decisions.

Connecting the dots for health care in NSW and the ACT

Throughout our lives, information about our health and the care we receive is recorded. Much of this information is securely stored at separate points in the health system, such as in databases at hospitals, health departments and other organisations that provide health care. The CHeReL enables this data to be sourced and joined together securely using record linkage, a process that brings together information from different databases about the same individual, family, place or event. This process creates a chronological sequence of health events or individual 'health story' that can be combined into a much larger story about the health of people in NSW and the ACT. This information can be used for research projects and to plan and improve health services across the population.

Why is linking health data important?

Record linkage allows a more complete picture of the health of the population than was previously possible. The information can be used to study:

  • the safety, quality and costs of health care by linking information on different treatments with outcomes such as emergency department visits, admissions to hospital and deaths
  • the relationships among personal, economic and lifestyle factors and health through linking data from research studies and surveys with outcomes such as emergency department visits, admissions to hospital, cancer notifications and deaths
  • societal and community influences on health by linking health data with information from other agencies, such as education and community services.

Who can benefit from the CHeReL's services?

The CHeReL provides high quality data linkage services and has used data from the health, education, human services, justice and transport sectors to enable research and evaluation. Services are supported by the CHeReL's core record linkage system (the Master Linkage Key), which currently contains pointers to over 69 million records relating to more than nine million people, making it one of the largest systems of linked personal information from health-related databases in Australia. This vast resource can be beneficial for researchers, government and health planners.

Researchers - accessing linked data that already exists is relatively quick and cost-effective compared to doing a research study from the beginning. Record linkage provides data for whole populations, minimising bias and creating data that would be prohibitively expensive to collect in any other way. Researchers accessing data through the CHeReL can also test and develop their research on existing data, allowing better targeting of funding for new research.

Policy makers - linked data allows the public health system to better identify issues of population health importance, plan services and interventions to address these issues, and monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of services and interventions.

To find out more about how the CHeReL can assist you please email us at cherel.mail@moh.health.nsw.gov.au or telephone (02) 9391 9924.