Current issues in alcohol

August 2011

Research

Data extraction and feedback

Does this lead to change in patient care?

Volume 40, No.8, August 2011 Pages 623-628

Peter Schattner

Mary Saunders

Leslie Stanger

Michele Speak

Kate Russo

Background

Computers enable general practitioners to collate clinical data within their practices. The improvements that this can make to clinical care remain the subject of enquiry.

Objective/s

Does the analysis of clinical data for the purpose of instigating quality improvement strategies in general practice, with support from a local division of general practice, lead to positive changes in measures of care after 12 months?

Discussion

This study demonstrated that, in this setting, the collection and analysis of clinical data, with support from a division of general practice, led to modest increases in the recording of information rather than improvements in clinical outcomes.

General practices have been encouraged in recent years to examine their own computer held data to improve the quality of their clinical care.1-5 The Australian government has contributed to this by sponsoring the Australian Primary Care Collaboratives (APCC) program and commercial software has become available to make data extraction simpler.6-9 General practitioners in the United Kingdom have been given incentives to meet targets set out in their Quality and Outcomes Framework.10 In Australia, divisions of general practice are also expected to provide feedback about clinical measures in their region,11 but to date, direct GP feedback to government has been limited. This may change as ‘pay-for-performance’ in meeting clinical targets can change clinical behaviour, and this is of interest to funders of healthcare in Australia.12

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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