Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

Overview

The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), part of the Australian Government's National Medicines Policy, provides affordable medicines for Australians.

Twelve times a year, the Monthly Publishing Systems (MPS) processes the changes to the PBS data to create what is known as the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits. This “document” is an up-to-date reference for the community and industry for a government program costing approximately $900m per month.

The objective is for the data to be widely available in as many forms are possible including channels that act as an alternative to the government.

Content details: 

  • Drugs available through the program – 1,000
  • Suppliers – 200
  • Branded items – 6,500
  • Benefits – #3,500
  • Live since – 2007
  • Site – pbs.gov.au

# a unique configuration of a  form and strength for a brand of medicine that when prescribed as a treatment under approved circumstances will qualify for a financial subsidy. It is the resolution of these configurations that makes the data complex to publish. 

Challenge

The PBS XML source data is heavily contextual and is governed by a complex schema that changes often. PageSeeder's robust document model allows the MPS to gracefully accommodate data issues. In addition, the system is configured with a large number of tests designed to protect it from rogue data. This allows the system to be managed by domain experts with very little XML experience.  

Implementation

The MPS creates the following deliverables:

  • for end users, there is the website for users on desktop and mobile plus a downloadable version of the complete website for institutions like hospitals,
  • for developers, there is an online API (supporting XML and JSON) plus SQLite,
  • for anyone that prefers paper, there is an automated process to create a 1700 page publication with 1,000 tables, 60 page index. (to download the latest monthly Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits and corresponding change documents go here),
  • for those that make or need to comply with the law makers the system creates the Legislative Instruments tabled before Parliament,
  • the monthly changes as a Summary or Comprehensive document.
  • early release of the monthly data under embargo to authorized users.