GP practice data is informing policy and research to improve health outcomes

A new report on general practice in Australia shows that hypertension, low back pain, dyslipidaemia, depression and gastro-oesophageal reflux disease are among the most common issues dealt with in general practice.

The third General Practice Insights Report, commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Health and released today by NPS MedicineWise, looks at around 2.9 million patients’ de-identified data showing common chronic health conditions in 2018–19 and aspects of the clinical management the patients received.

The report examines MedicineInsight data from the clinical software of participating general practices and provides vignettes that show how the MedicineInsight data can be used to support quality improvements in clinical practice and health service planning.

For the first time the report contains information on the patient prevalence of dementia and serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder as well as information about children who see a GP.

People with long-term mental illness are known to have poorer health than those without a mental illness, and the report studies cardiovascular risk factors for these people. The prevalence of existing cardiovascular disease and every cardiovascular risk factor was significantly higher for people with long-term mental illness when compared to the general patient population without long-term mental illness.

NPS MedicineWise CEO Adj A/Prof Steve Morris said that the increasing number of projects and scientific publications using MedicineInsight data is a tribute to its growing importance in informing policy and research to improve the health outcomes for all Australians.

“The General Practice Insights Report gives a patient-focused overview of general practice activity in Australia. It also provides patient prevalence of selected common noncommunicable conditions and explores aspects of care such as the use of medicines to manage cardiovascular conditions and mental health treatment plans,” Mr Morris said.

Among patients aged 65 years or older, 3.4% had dementia—the focus of a new national NPS MedicineWise educational program launching soon.

The report found that among patients who visited a GP at least once during 2018–19:

  • The average number of GP clinical encounters rose with increasing age, to a peak of 13.7 among people aged 90 years or older
  • The average number of prescriptions issued during this year per patient was 3.9
  • Approximately 2 in 5 patients had at least one pathology test recorded in 2018-19. Patients with chronic kidney disease, type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis were most likely to be in the top 10% of tested patients.

“This report also contains insights such as which medicines are most likely to be prescribed privately and ways MedicineInsight data are already being used in quality improvement projects,” Mr Morris said.

“For example, as part of our current nationwide educational program on paediatric asthma for health professionals, participating MedicineInsight general practices are receiving quality improvement reports along with a discussion with an NPS MedicineWise educational visitor about their own patterns of prescribing and patient care in treating this common condition.

“MedicineInsight is only possible thanks to the general practices around Australia that share their de-identified data. Combined with the excellent data governance framework surrounding the data, the MedicineInsight data is increasingly being used to improve healthcare delivery and ultimately improve the health of Australians.”

To read the full General Practice Insights Report 2018–19, go to www.nps.org.au/medicine-insight

About MedicineInsight

MedicineInsight is developed and managed by NPS MedicineWise, with funding from the Department of Health. It assists general practitioners to deliver high quality care to their patients. It does this by securely collecting de-identified clinical data from clinical information systems to help understand patient trends over time, identify service delivery opportunities and then providing this information back to general practitioners. The RACGP National Research and Evaluation Ethics Committee has approved the standard operations and uses of the MedicineInsight program. For further information about MedicineInsight, visit nps.org.au/medicine-insight

     

    Media contact

    Matthew Harris, NPS MedicineWise Communications & PR adviser: (02) 8217 9229, 0419 618 365 or [email protected]