Improving data quality can lead to better health outcomes: RACGP expert

Doug Hendrie

17/09/2018 2:15:19 PM

Speaking ahead of this week’s RACGP eHealth Forum 2018, Dr Rob Hosking has called for a greater focus on improving the quality of patient data in general practice.

How can GPs improve the quality of their data?
How can GPs improve the quality of their data?

Dr Rob Hosking, incoming Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – eHealth and Practice Systems (REC– eHPS), said a widespread issue with poor-quality data is often a result of busy GPs inputting text into the incorrect fields in practice software. 
‘Anecdotally, the problem of low-quality data is fairly high. It’s mainly a misunderstanding amongst GPs that it might be useful to enter it in the right place at the time of seeing the patient,’ he told newsGP.
‘People are busy, so they just do what they have to do with the patient in front of them. They don’t think that what they record will be potentially useful in future.’  
Dr Hosking said low-quality data represents a missed opportunity to boost internal research and even a clinic’s bottom line.
He will raise the issue at the RACGP’s eHealth Forum 2018, to be held on Thursday 20 September, which will focus on the power of data in general practice.
‘If we can get high-quality data in GP clinics, we get better information for use in our own practices,’ Dr Hosking said.

Rob-Hosking-hero-(1).jpgDr Rob Hosking has called for a greater focus on improving the quality of patient data in general practice.
Data extraction tools applied to high-quality data could, for instance, show a GP that their practice is not hitting immunisation goals for people over the age of 65.
Dr Hosking said there is also a financial incentive for GPs to keep high-quality data.
‘If they analyse their data, they might find they’re not billing the way they should be and missing out on certain interventions like managing diabetes. Or they might not be billing appropriately,’ he said. 
Dr Hosking said there is currently renewed interest in general practice data from university researchers, Primary Health Networks and organisations like NPS MedicineWise. This has been particularly true since the end of the long-running BEACH program, which collected general practice data over 18 years.
‘Everyone is trying to get hold of general practice data – they’ve finally figured out that 98% of general practice clinics are fully computerised with a wealth of information stored in those systems,’ Dr Hosking said.
‘Someone might want to pay for de-identified data in the future. But some is of good quality, some is dubious.’
A common question raised by GPs interested in giving researchers access to their data is how they could be sure patient data had been thoroughly de-identified. Dr Hosking said the major data extraction tools broadly do a good job, with the best tools de-identifying and aggregating data before sending it outside the clinic.
Dr Hosking believes that high-quality data is ultimately beneficial to practices, whatever use they may intend for it in the long-term.
‘[Good data] adds value to their record systems, which then helps improve their businesses and viability,’ he said.
eHealth Forum
The RACGP’s fourth annual eHealth Forum will be held on Thursday 20 September. It is designed to provide an opportunity for stakeholders and leaders in eHealth to discuss issues that affect the general practice profession and industry.
REC– eHPS invites RACGP members to participate further during the day through a live twitter feed using #GPeHealth.

data quality ehealth ehealth forum general practice data

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