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Putting prevention into practice (Green Book)

Iterative cycles

Quality improvement approaches often involve cycles of problem identification, research, implementation and review. In 2004, a structured approach to quality improvement was initiated through the Australian Primary Care Collaboratives Program.

The approach provides a considered and systematic approach for general practices and divisions of general practice to work together. The approach is based on the PDSA cycle that has been used extensively in the UK National Primary Care Collaborative. This now involves general practices from every primary care trust in the UK and is one of the largest health quality improvement program in the world.

The purpose of the Australian Primary Care Collaboratives Program is to develop ways to enable participating general practices to create sustainable improvements in the quality of care for their patients. It entails practices linking into a process for gathering existing best practice and trialing new methods. A series of workshops share successful and less successful strategies and repeating the PDSA cycle.

The collaboratives program offers practices and GPs the opportunity of improving patient care, continuous professional development, improvement in practices strengths and minimising weaknesses, the learning of useful general skills, better organisation of work time, and increased professional satisfaction.

Networking nights for GPs

A rural division of general practice facilitates ‘networking nights’. These involve locally based health care providers including the hospital, community health services and other service groups, GPs, PNs, practice managers and private providers. The group usually works through a hypothetical scenario and deals with issues around specific chronic disease management.

Richard Bills, Central Highlands Division of General Practice, Victoria,