Data changes flagged for hundreds of general practices

Jolyon Attwooll

27/10/2022 4:08:39 PM

Significant changes to the way MedicineInsight data from almost 700 general practices is overseen lie ahead, with an opt-out deadline next week.

GP on tablet device
Responsibility for data from the nationwide quality improvement program MedicineInsight will soon pass to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.

Hundreds of general practices are yet to open an email outlining significant changes affecting the management of data for MedicineInsight, a nationwide quality improvement program.
The program was developed and managed by NPS MedicineWise, the not-for-profit organisation currently responsible for stewarding the quality use of medicines (QUM) in Australia.
Around 650 general practices participate, with each providing de-identified primary care data. They all have a MedicineInsight practice agreement with NPS MedicineWise.
However, NPS MedicineWise will close at the end of this year and responsibilities for the data are due to transfer to the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC).
So far two emails have been sent to general practices flagging the change, with fewer than one in two opening the emails as of last Friday according to NPS MedicineWise.
Data from practices wishing to remain as participants will automatically transfer to ACSQHC. However, general practices who no longer wish to take part in the program are required to opt out.
The deadline for opting out is next Monday (31 October).
Chair of the RACGP National Research and Evaluation Ethics Committee, Emeritus Professor Siaw-Teng Liaw, said some GPs may wish to consult with their local Primary Health Network (PHN) in case they are involved with the ACSQHC, and with GP ‘big data’.
‘You also need to let your patients know, perhaps through a practice newsletter or notice in the waiting room,’ he told newsGP.
The ‘value proposition’ of participating will remain the same despite the transfer, according to Professor Liaw.
‘These may include a consideration of the value of the real-world data you collect in your electronic health record to improve the safety and quality of general practice, and your role as a data custodian/steward for your patients, practice and yourself,’ he said.
Professor Liaw added that the changes may allow greater IT resources to be drawn upon, although warned that larger datasets can be a target for hackers. He also said the ACSQHC could improve the utility of the general practice data by linking to similar activities in other sectors.
‘But the relevance of general practice and primary care may be lost as this domain has not been a strategic focus of the ACSQHC,’ he said.
In November, NPS MedicineWise is expected to provide ACSQHC with the names of participating practices and a copy of the existing practice agreements.
MedicineInsight will formally operate under the custodianship of ACSQHC from 1 January 2023.
The changes were prompted by changes in the last Budget before this year’s Federal Election, which revealed that NPS MedicineWise would no longer receive uncontested funding, and that most of its functions will transfer to the ACSQHC.
The decision to defund NPS MedicineWise was reviewed by Deloitte at the request of Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler.
There were hopes that NPS MedicineWise could continue and contest for funding under the new system, but the original decision was supported by the review.
In September, NPS MedicineWise confirmed that it would close permanently at the end of the year.
If your practice wishes to withdraw from the MedicineInsight program, a written request is required to by 31 October, with NPS MedicineWise advising it may take up to seven days to process.
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Dr Simon Holliday   27/10/2022 11:12:35 PM

This month, our two practices withdrew from the MedicineInsight project.
The demise of the NPS is a tragedy. Tony Abbott's first budget slashed its funding, forcing the NPS to focus on private-public education and academic detailing. Probably, this would have skewed the topics chosen by the NPS, previously Australia's main (and possibly only) national non-commercial provider of GP education. Abbott's Big Pharma funders would have been delighted.
The ALP followed the lead of the Coalition to complete the de-funding of the NPS. Before the final decision, it did commission a report by Deloittes. This report, unsurprisingly, backed the ALP's original proposal.
Deloittes expects ACSQHC, which has not been responsible for medical education, to be more efficient than the NPS.
I reckon Deloittes could never be paid enough for such quality farce and our practice chose to disengage from the remnants of a once-great service that defended independent and unbiased medical education.