Definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation


The RACGP is hosting a third workshop on 8 April for those wanting to provide further feedback. Register below.

 Closed: 1 April 2021

 

1. Introduction

The changing landscape and modernisation of primary healthcare has led to numerous models of care delivery across Australia and changes in the way the definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation (the definition) is perceived.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners’ (RACGP) is currently reviewing this definition in order to understand whether its current form is ‘fit for purpose’ and/or whether it requires an update to better reflect how general practice services are currently delivered in the community.

2. Have your say on the definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation

The RACGP is seeking member and stakeholder feedback on its definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation. We are asking members the following question:

For the purpose of accreditation, is the RACGP definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation reflective of all contemporary general practices – yes or no?

If you answer ‘no’ to the consultation question, please state how you think the RACGP could update the definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation to be reflective of all contemporary general practices.

Any changes made to the definition may have implications on the Services Australia’s Practice Incentives Program (PIP) for general practice. The RACGP is calling for feedback from members and practice staff who work in general practice services currently accredited or not. We would like you to consider our consultation paper and, incorporating your own experiences, provide feedback to us on the definition.

Read our consultation paper: Definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation.

Consultation paper

Provide your answer and feedback on the consultation question.

Provide feedback

Register your interest to attend an online workshop to discuss further.

Register now


The Standards for general practices (5th edition) (the Standards) set out the definition of a general practice that all practices, organisations or healthcare services must meet in full before they are considered eligible for accreditation.

Table 1 The definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation and the RACGP definition of the general practice speciality.

1

The definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation

Note: the consultation seeks to review this definition.

The definition requires that, in order for a practice to seek accreditation, they must fulfil all three of the following requirements:

  1. the practice or health service must operate within the model of general practice described in the RACGP definition of the general practice speciality
  2. general practitioner services are predominantly* of a general practice nature
  3. the general practice is capable of meeting all mandatory Indicators in the Standards.

* ‘Predominantly’ is defined by the Health Insurance Regulations 2018 (made under the Health Insurance Act 1973) as ‘more than 50% of the practitioner’s clinical time, and more than 50% of the services for which Medicare benefits are claimed, are in general practice.’

2

The RACGP definition of the general practice speciality

Note: the consultation does not seek to review this definition. The RACGP is not updating its definition of the general practice speciality. Its detail is provided here as context to the first requirement of the above definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation.

The RACGP sets out 10 characteristics that define the speciality of general practice. The 10 characteristics are:

  • person centredness
  • continuity of care
  • comprehensiveness
  • whole person care
  • diagnostic and therapeutic skill
  • coordination and clinical teamwork
  • continuous quality improvement
  • professional, clinical and ethical standards
  • leadership, advocacy and equity
  • continuing evolution of the speciality

 


A practice can demonstrate to patients its commitment to safety, quality and continuous improvements by achieving independent accreditation against the Standards. 

In Australia, 84% of all practices are currently accredited. Accreditation against the Standards is voluntary; however, accreditation is a requirement for a general practice to access the PIP (ie the general practice is accredited or registered for accreditation against the Standards). As the name suggests, the PIP provides financial incentives and support for accredited general practices and is administered by Services Australia on behalf of the Australian Department of Health.
Additional information about the PIP streams and incentives are available on the Services Australia website.


Table 2 outlines a range of considerations for stakeholders to take into account when considering the consultation question. This is not an exhaustive list of considerations, nor do the items in Table 2 reflect the position of the RACGP or RACGP Expert Committee – Standards for General Practices (REC-SGP).

All stakeholder considerations, whether aligned to suggestions in Table 2 or not, are welcome and will be considered by the RACGP.

Table 2 Suggested considerations for review of the definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation

Item

Description

1

Retain the current definition

The RACGP could retain its current definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation, maintaining the current requirement for general practices to be assessed consistently against all mandatory Indicators in the Standards. If retained, general practice services that cannot meet the current definition (as described in Sections 2.2 and 2.3 of this document) will still be unable to be accredited against the Standards.

2

Exempt non-traditional general practice services from meeting mandatory Indicators

Exemptions could be introduced for certain mandatory Indicators when a particular general practice service is assessed for accreditation. For instance, all the Indicators that require a physical premises could be identified and deemed not applicable for a service without a physical premises, that otherwise provides comprehensive general practice services.

Any service to which Indicator exemptions apply would need to be identified and defined, as would an eligibility process to seek such exemptions.

Any changes that incorporate Indicator exemptions may have unintended consequences whereby other health services that do not meet the spirit or intent of the definition can seek accreditation and access to the PIP. To avoid this, parameters could be put in place to clearly explain what exemptions are applicable in particular circumstances.

3

Explore new ways to meet Indicators related to physical requirements

The RACGP could consider whether the fact a practice is mobile, satellite, or otherwise operates in absence of a physical premises categorically excludes it from meeting all mandatory Indicators.

The RACGP and accreditation agencies could broaden the assessment for certain Indicators to encompass more ways to meet those Indicators traditionally associated with a physical premises (ie Indicators described in Section 3.1 of this document). Unlike item 2 above, all Indicators would still have to be met by the service in order for it to be accredited (ie no exemptions for mandatory Indicators); however, that may not require the service to have a physical premises.

Accreditation agencies could consider whether a certain requirement is ‘met’ following a detailed assessment of the service (eg a service without a physical premises that has an arrangement with suitable locations that provide access to the required equipment and facilities, such as a residential aged care facility).


The RACGP has developed an extended paper for consultation to support members providing feedback on the definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation. The extended paper details:

  • the RACGP’s role in setting standards for accreditation
  • rationale for the current definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation
  • detail and examples of issues arising around general practice services that sit outside the traditional definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation.

Read our consultation paper: Definition of a general practice for the purpose of accreditation.

Consultation paper

Provide your answer and feedback on the consultation question.

Provide feedback

Register your interest to attend an online workshop to discuss further.

Register now