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Using aggregated general practice data to evaluate primary care interventions

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Aggregated data extracted from computerised general practice records should be used to improve outcomes at patient, health system and population levels

A report released in 2016 by the Primary Health Care Advisory Group (PHCAG), Better outcomes for people with chronic and complex health conditions, highlights the need to use aggregated general practice data to target health resources and interventions.1 The aim of any health program should be to improve outcomes at patient, health system and population levels. These outcomes should be measurable and part of a feedback loop to improve patient care.

To date, much of the data on general practitioner clinical activity has come from surveys such as the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) program.2 Following the cessation of data collection by this program in April 2016, there is a need to strategically invest in future data collection systems.3 With the vast majority of Australia’s 32 000 GPs using computers, electronic medical records held in general practice provide a potentially rich data source on the 85% of the Australian population who visit a GP at least once per year. The recommendation to establish a national minimum dataset by the PHCAG supported by a data collection model using a national data warehouse would be a major step toward addressing…