First annual report shows need for more data driven quality improvement in general practice

  26 August 2021  NWMPHN   

North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN) welcomes the release of the first annual report on Quality Improvement Measures in Australian general practices.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has published its Practice Incentives Program Quality Improvement Measures: National report on the first year of data 2020-21. The report brings together de-identified data collated by Primary Health Networks (PHNs) from more than 5,700 general practices across 10 measures that empower our understanding of population health.

About PIP QI

The Practice Incentives Program Quality Improvement (PIP QI) Incentive payment is available to general practices that participate in quality improvement to improve patient outcomes and deliver best practice care. Practices enrolled in the PIP QI Incentive commit to implementing continuous, data driven quality improvement activities that support them in their role of managing their patients’ health.

Practices also commit to submitting nationally consistent, de-identified general practice data, against 10 key Improvement Measures that contribute to local, regional, and national health outcomes.

What the report means for our region

There are currently 399 practices participating in PIP QI in the NWMPHN region. Our region is one of the most diverse and fastest growing of Australia’s 31 PHN regions. It was also the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and has seen ongoing outbreaks throughout 2021.

General practices have been at the frontline of the COVID-19 response and have had to respond to many challenges including testing and the constantly evolving vaccine rollout. Regular face-to-face care has been affected and the rise of telehealth – while welcomed – presents its own challenges.

Despite this, practices in the NWMPHN region have demonstrated improvements in 8 out of 10 Improvement Measures. The biggest improvements were in body mass index (BMI) recording, and the number of patients with diabetes who have their blood pressure recorded.

NWMPHN CEO Christopher Carter said the AIHW report provides an opportunity for NWMPHN to further strengthen its quality improvement support model for general practices.

“It is fantastic to be able to see this data from a national perspective and use it to work with general practices to support their local response,” said Mr Carter.

“The data shows that while many improvements have been made, many more are possible – and necessary for the future health of our growing region.”

The NWMPHN quality improvement model

Our PIP QI 10 Measures workbook is available for practices to download.
Our PIP QI Ten Measures is available for practices to download.

NWMPHN has established a general practice engagement model that has quality improvement at its core. The AIHW report will help us plan QI initiatives that support practices to improve patient care in the areas that need the most focus.

Some of the ways we support practices to implement the 10 PIP QI Measures are:

  • Quarterly reports for participating practices that monitor their progress across the 10 Measures. Our quality improvement program officers support practices to understand and get the most out of their reports, identify areas for improvement and discuss QI activities. We also offer drop-in sessions with our Clinical Advisor Dr Jeannie Knapp.
  • In-depth features on PIP QI Measures written by Dr Knapp, such as those on smoking status and diabetes. These features reinforce the importance of the Measures in relation to high quality care and provide practices with a guide for improving in each area.
  • Toolkits for quality improvement including the QI Guide and Tools (.pdf) and self-directed QI workbooks including one on the PIP QI Ten Measures (.pdf), which general practices downloaded more than 200 times in 2020–21.
  • HealthPathways Melbourne provides GPs and their primary care teams with localised clinical guidelines and referral advice to support their delivery of best practice care related to the 10 Measures.
  • Opportunities for practices to participate in facilitated, structured QI projects with NWMPHN. 10 per cent of practices participated in one of these activities during 2020–21. These structured QI activities involve practices working on a focused topic for 3 to 6 months to improve patient care. We can then demonstrate and share this improvement. For example: 10 practices participated in a type 2 diabetes quality improvement project from October 2020 to March 2021. As a result, the number of patients with their blood pressure recorded in the past 6 months increased by 86 per cent. All participating practices achieving an improvement.

NWMPHN looks forward to further strengthening quality improvement opportunities for general practices in our region in 2021–22.

 Read and download the report on the AIHW website.