Focusing on prevention is an important response to Australia’s increasing healthcare needs.
In general practice, we are well trained and skilled in caring for, and working alongside, patients who present with multiple issues and health-related problems. What we don’t do often is step back from the individual before us and consider our patients as a community or population. Yet this shift in focus holds enormous potential to improve health outcomes. While we continue supporting individuals to take greater responsibility for their health and prevent illness, if we also work at a practice population level, we have opportunities to affect the broader determinants of health and illness.
Improving preventive care for individuals and communities leads to better health.1 To this end, multiple evidence based recommendations have been developed. The Guidelines for preventive activities in general practice, ninth edition (Red Book) is a key source of these. However, when we look across general practice, implementation and delivery of preventive services is variable.2,3
It is not our medical knowledge that can adversely affect our ability to deliver preventive care. Rather, it is our ability to recognise and overcome a combination of individual factors (eg time pressures, competing demands, skill levels, attitudes) and practice systems and organisational factors (eg availability of a team, clarity of roles, lack of resources, a culture focusing on treatment rather than prevention). Putting preventive recommendations into practice requires knowledge in areas we are not well taught, such as implementation science, change management, organisational behaviour, and data collection and analysis.
In Putting prevention into practice: Guidelines for the implementation of prevention in the general practice setting (Green Book), we aim to give you enough useful knowledge in the above areas to create a clear and actionable plan to improve your practice’s preventive care.