The RACGP, ACSQHC and accreditation agencies all have a part to play in improving accreditation for general practice. Including more variables in the data would help to examine areas of particular interest, such as geographic distribution, practice size or whether a practice is newly accredited. To understand accreditation, we may therefore need to consider multiple sources of data.
Data-driven improvement monitors progress toward objectives and is a well-established principle for quality improvement.8 The RoGS data do not inform us of compliance to accreditation indicators in the Standards, or variation between practices and agencies. Analysis of practice compliance data – provided by the accreditation agencies – can provide us this information. Each of these stakeholders can use accreditation compliance data to reveal aspects of accreditation and the Standards that practices find straightforward, or difficult to meet. Such analysis can lead to the implementation of improvements to the Standards, or the way a practice understands, interprets and enacts aspects of the Standards and accreditation. Work is underway to assess compliance data and its possible insights.
Over the next decade, a large challenge will be converting data (including accreditation and compliance data) from multiple sources consistently, reliably and accurately into useful information and knowledge. We need a data-driven approach to ensure productive primary care.
Future RoGS can be used as one measure to analyse if improvements made because of access to compliance data affect participation in accreditation (eg over time, seeing if accreditation increases in states and territories in years following targeted efforts to improve compliance).
Further accreditation research and stakeholder consultation is needed to explain many of the observations found in accreditation data (be it RoGS or subsequent analysis of accreditation compliance data), including:
- what impact changing accreditation numbers have on quality care, clinical outcomes and consumer experience
- why some regions have lower proportions of accredited practices than others
- what events or resources may result in an increase or decrease in accreditation
- what aspects of accreditation agency performance impact their gain or loss of market share
- whether additional incentives or strategies are needed to support unaccredited practices to become accredited.
In the next 10 years, we must develop more efficient methods of accreditation that address barriers to continuous quality improvement, and the impact that the current accreditation system (advanced notice and face-to-face assessment) has on practices that want to be accredited. We need to explore accreditation’s impacts on practice time and cost, and whether new methods can make accreditation more viable and attractive to practices. Research undertaken into accreditation methods needs to assess the acceptability, feasibility and usability of the available and proposed processes.