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Maintaining quality improvement in primary care in a changing environment

In 2021/2022, the Adelaide PHN Practice Facilitator team was able to resume a less COVID dominated role and refocus on continuous quality improvement with many general practices.

Over the course of the year there were common themes and trends observed across Adelaide general practices and this was often reflected in shared practice data. Anecdotal evidence suggested considerable ongoing changes to many general practice patient populations, with most experiencing large fluctuations in cohort size and growth (both positively and negatively).

The advent of telehealth posed new, unforeseen benefits and challenges. For example, general practitioners experienced greater flexibility in seeing patients. However, this also limited the scope of assessment and ability to gather ancillary information due to the digital interface. MBS claiming requirements further added to administration load and increased patient access to clinicians meant that availability filled quickly.

Despite these new challenges, many practices are now operating under a state of ‘new normal’ and continue working diligently on their chosen areas of quality improvement.

PHN aggregate level data suggests practices were able to maintain demographic and risk factor recording for their patient cohorts, despite the changes. Alcohol and ethnicity status recording saw the greatest percentage increases, with allergy and smoking status recording maintaining the highest overall percentage recorded (94.6% and 82.3% respectively).

Overall, practices have been able to adapt their businesses to a changing environment and are in a good position to continue providing quality care to their patients while using data driven improvement as they look ahead to refining their systems throughout 2022/2023.



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