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Interpretive guide to the RACGP Standards

for Aboriginal community controlled health services

Standard 1.2 Information about the practice

Our practice provides sufficient information to enable our patients to make informed decisions regarding their care.

Criterion 1.2.1

Practice information

Our practice provides patients with adequate information about our practice to facilitate access to care.

Indicators

► A. Our practice information sheet is available to patients and is accurate and contains at a minimum:

  • our practice address and telephone numbers
  • our consulting hours and arrangements for care outside our practice’s normal opening hours, including a contact telephone number
  • our practice’s billing principles
  • our practice’s communication policy, including receiving and returning telephone calls and electronic communication
  • our practice’s policy for the management of patient health information (or its principles and how full details can be obtained from the practice)
  • the process for the follow up of results
  • how to provide feedback or make a complaint to the practice including contact details of the local state or territory health complaints conciliation body.

► B. Our practice team can demonstrate how we communicate essential information to patients who are unable to understand our practice information sheet.

► C. If our practice has a website, the information is accurate and contains at a minimum the information included in our practice information sheet and meets the advertising requirements of the MBA Code of Conduct.

Explanation

Key points

Providing written information about the practice is important as it informs patients about the range and cost of services provided by the practice, such as:

  • what clinical services are available at the practice
  • how to obtain medical care within and outside normal opening hours
  • billing principles, such as bulk billing, accounts settlement, representative or approximate costs for treatment
  • communication policies, including the use of electronic means (eg. SMS and email)
  • patient health information management policy (eg. how to obtain a copy of the health information kept by the practice)
  • the process for follow up of results (eg. who will contact whom and by when)
  • how to provide feedback and complaints to the practice (eg. a contact number for the person responsible for dealing with feedback and complaints).

Format of the information sheet

A photocopied, typed or electronically generated information sheet is acceptable. The information on the practice information sheet is important to all patients and the practice needs to find alternative ways to provide or discuss this information with patients who are unable to read or understand it. Pictorial representations or a simple language version of the information may be helpful.

Where a practice serves defined ethnic communities, it is appropriate to make written information available in the most common languages used by the practice population.

Font style and size can be an issue for people with vision limitations. Vision Australia has produced legibility guidelines which practices may find useful. The guidelines are available at www.visionaustralia.org.au/info.aspx?page=785.

Providing feedback or making a complaint

Practices are encouraged to be open about the way patients can provide feedback or make a complaint. It may be useful to state that the practice is receptive to feedback and will always endeavour to resolve any complaints directly, but where a matter can not be resolved, the relevant health complaints commissioner can be contacted by the practice or by the patient for advice and possible mediation.

Practice websites

Where a practice has a website, it needs to ensure the information is regularly updated to reflect changes in the practice. Information on the website needs to be accurate and contain, at a minimum, the information included in the practice information sheet.

Advertising within practice information

Information provided by the practice (eg. practice information sheet, health promotion information or ‘tailor made’ health information magazines) may contain local advertising. The practice should include a disclaimer that the inclusion of advertisements is not an endorsement by the practice of these services or products.

All advertising needs to comply with the mba Code of Conduct on advertising including:

  • Making sure that any information you publish about your medical services is factual and verifiable
  • Making only justifiable claims about the quality or outcomes of your services in any information you provide to patients
  • Not guaranteeing cures, exploiting patients’ vulnerability or fears about their future health, or raising unrealistic expectations
  • Not offering inducements or using testimonials
  • Not making unfair or inaccurate comparisons between your services and those of colleagues. The MBA Code of Conduct is available at http://goodmedicalpractice.org.au.
Standard 1.2 Information about the practice

Our practice provides sufficient information to enable our patients to make informed decisions regarding their care.

Other information for Standard 1.2

Related external standards

Some of the standards and criteria in the Standards for general practices are similar to those in broader organisational standards – specifically the QIC Health and community services standards (6th edition) and the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 9001:2008 (E) (4th edition). Where these similarities occur they are identified. This may reduce the amount of work undertaken to achieve accreditation for both sets of standards.

Be aware, though, that each set of standards has a different purpose and scope. This means that you will need to be familiar with both sets of standards, and their similarities and differences, so that you respond appropriately as well as efficiently to the requirements of each.

The QIC Standards include the following standards that are relevant to Standard 1.2 Information about the practice:

1.6 Knowledge management

The ISO Standards include the following requirements that are relevant to Standard 1.2 Information about the practice:

5.2 Customer focus
6.1 Provision of resources
7 Product realisation

Useful resources

The Standards for general practices include specific resources for each criterion. The following additional resources may be useful if you wish to enhance your understanding of this Standard or identify any gaps in your service’s policies, processes and procedures. Some of these resources will contain sample policies or templates that have been developed by other health services or support organisations, which you could customise to suit your particular circumstances.

Your state or territory NACCHO affiliate or Medicare Local may provide support and training for health services and general practices seeking accreditation against the Standards.

AGPAL and GPA ACCREDITATION plus have some useful tools and resources on their websites:

The South Eastern Health Providers Association has a very useful set of resources for health services and general practices freely available on its website. These include a Policy and procedure manual (2011), designed to align with the Standards for general practices:

The North Carolina Program on Health Literacy toolkit provides resources to help develop patient health literacy, as well as information on the teach-back method:

The Kimberley Interpreting Service has guidelines for working with interpreters:

The Medical Board of Australia offers a PDF of its Medical guidelines for advertising of regulated health services:

The State Government of Victoria’s Health translations directory is also useful:

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