16 December 2016

Proposed Practice Incentives Program redesign yet another blow to general practice

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has warned against the shifting of further funding from general practice services in the redesign of the Practice Incentives Program (PIP).

The call was made this week in the RACGP’s submission to the Department of Health consultation Redesigning the Practice Incentives Program.

RACGP President Dr Bastian Seidel said the RACGP had used its submission to identify a number of key concerns raised by general practitioners during the consultation period.

“Quality improvement and review of the PIP is vitally important, but the model proposed in the consultation paper needs further consideration,” he said.

“We are concerned about the proposed model because it signals yet another shift in funding away from general practice.

“The removal of $21.2 million from the pool of funding that supports the PIP incentives, to be redirected to the Health Care Homes pilot, is of grave concern.

“If the Government wants to demonstrate a genuine commitment to continual quality improvement in primary healthcare, it absolutely must invest in PIP.

“More funding is needed to support quality improvement – but this should not be at the expense of rebates for patients.”

Dr Seidel also expressed concern about the scrapping of incentives that support access to care for disadvantaged patient groups.

“We know that aged care, rural, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients have poorer health outcomes – the removal of incentives supporting access to care for these patient groups will only add burden to practices working with a disadvantaged patient population,” he said.

“Practices with a significantly disadvantaged patient population will struggle to demonstrate quality improvement at the same rate as other practices. There does not appear to be any extra support for practices with these populations under the proposed model.

Dr Seidel said the consultation indicates that the automated extraction of data from practice systems will be a key feature of the redesigned PIP.

“We interpret this as a push for government to be able to access data from practice systems.

“There are a number of issues associated with the automated extraction of data from practice systems, not least information security and patient privacy – previous experience indicates that government systems are not secure, such as the 2016 Census.”

The RACGP has also outlined how quality improvement should look.

“Practices should be rewarded for demonstrating a robust method of measuring quality improvement and participating in quality improvement activities,” said Dr Seidel.

“GPs and practices are already participating in quality improvement through various existing methods. They should be rewarded for demonstrating quality improvement through these existing methods, instead of creating more systems and processes.

“Furthermore, funding for quality improvement should be paid directly to practices and GPs rather than third party providers.”

For further information about the RACGP submission to the Redesigning the Practice Incentives Program consultation visit the RACGP website.

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