Data sharing and governance

How do we use and manage general practice data?

Visual representation of quality improvement.General practices share de-identified data with PHNs to use in population health planning. We use the practice data to better understand needs of patients at the individual, group, practice, regional and national level.

PHNs must comply with all applicable laws in relation to the collection, storage, access, use or disclosure of practice data. All practice data is de-identified so that it does not contain information that can be used to identify individuals.

North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) has developed a Data Governance Framework to ensure the safe, accurate and consistent use of data. The Framework defines roles, responsibilities, procedures and technology used to manage and protect information within NWMPHN.


Data Sharing Agreement with general practices

Eligible practices can receive the Practice Incentives Program Quality Improvement (PIP QI) Incentive payment by submitting the PIP Eligible Data Set to their local Primary Health Network. Using this data, we create and email a custom PIP QI data report to each practice every quarter.

We have developed a Data Sharing Agreement so that practices can better understand what data is shared with us, what we do with the data and how it is protected.

The agreement covers ownership and use of data, obligations for practices and NWMPHN, liability and confidentiality. It also includes a new End User Licence Agreement for practices using CAT Plus software.


What does the agreement mean for your practice?

NWMPHN supports practices to undertake data-driven quality improvement. By entering into the agreement, we can better support your practice by providing regular reports and feedback to help you:

  • better monitor the health outcomes of patients
  • use the CAT Plus software to support clinical decision-making at the point of care
  • examine, visualise and analyse practice data
  • improve the quality of data captured and reported on
  • identify priorities and perform quality improvement activities.

How can practices sign the agreement?

Contact your NWMPHN relationship manager to discuss the agreement and how your practice can sign. Email primarycare@nwmphn.org.au or phone (03) 9347 1188.


Data sharing for the Practice Incentives Program

The introduction of the Practice Incentives Program Quality Improvement (PIP QI) Incentive in 2019 changed the way general practices share data with PHNs.

Most practices have previously shared population health data with PHNs and will continue to do so. However, to be eligible to receive the PIP QI payment, practices are now required to provide the PIP Eligible Data Set (10 Improvement Measures) to their local PHN.

NWMPHN uses the CAT Plus software package as a tool for practices to submit data. We offer this software to all practices in our region at no cost.

  • More information on CAT Plus

    NWMPHN uses CAT4, part of the CAT Plus software package from Pen CS, to view and analyse practice data.

    CAT4 supports general practice teams to achieve data-driven quality improvement. It helps practice staff understand their patient cohort and derive actionable insights aligned with accreditationRACGP guidelines, best practice and the Practice Incentives Program Quality Improvement Incentive.

    CAT4 allows users to create interactive and user-friendly charts and reports that can help the practice team interpret clinical and quality improvement measures.  These reports allow practices to perform tasks such as:

    • review the consistency of appropriate data coding by clinical staff within the practice
    • review accreditation indicators such as the recording of allergies and smoking status as per the RACGP Standards
    • review MBS item claiming to identify missing business opportunities
    • monitor immunisation rates for children, adolescents, and adults, as well as for influenza, and identify at-risk patients who are overdue for specific immunisations so that they can be recalled
    • manage chronic disease including diabetes (through the Diabetic Cycle of Care), COPD, asthma, heart disease and mental health conditions.

    CAT4 can assist practice teams to identify priority areas, set realistic goals and accurately monitor and measure quality improvement activities. The software empowers practices to make data-driven decisions about current and future health initiatives and services that are relevant to the practice’s demographic profile.  

    CAT4 works alongside practice management and billing software and is compatible with MedicalDirector, Pracsoft, Best Practice, Zedmed, Genie, MedtechpractiXCommunicare, MMEX, PCIS and others.   

    Download the booklet below to assist your quality improvement activities using CAT Plus:

    Pen CS CAT Plus Health Informatics Software Booklet for General Practices and Aboriginal Medical Services


Can patients be identified by their data?

No. The CAT Plus software regularly extracts data from the practice’s clinical information system and sends it to NWMPHN. The software is designed to de-identify data by aggregating and removing all identifying data.