NPS general practice report echoes RACGP findings

Matt Woodley

25/10/2019 3:13:43 PM

It found mental health conditions are among the most common issues dealt with in general practice.

Health data infographic.
The report’s findings were derived from the de-identified data of 2.7 million patients.

The findings are markedly different from last year’s controversial report, which stated the top reason for visiting a GP was to access a prescription.
Information for the General Practice Insights Report 2017–18, taken from the de-identified data of 2.7 million patients, revealed hypertension, depression, anxiety, asthma and arthritis as the most common chronic conditions with which patients present to GPs.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy said the findings, which are sourced from data taken from the clinical software of participating general practices, echo those of the recently published RACGP 2019 General Practice: Health of the Nation report.
‘Mental health conditions in general are common across all ages, with more females affected than males, but unlike most medical conditions which become more prevalent with age, anxiety decreases with age,’ he said.
‘Anxiety was most common in the 20–29-year age group, and depression was most common in the 40–49 age group. Both anxiety and depression were twice as prevalent in teenage girls than teenage boys.’
The report also found that, among patients who visited a GP at least once during 2017–18: 

  • females had on average 0.7 more clinical encounters with a GP per year than males
  • influenza or influenza-like illnesses were recorded as diagnoses for 1.3% of patients
  • almost 70% of patients had at least one prescription issued
  • the average number of original prescriptions per patient was 3.6
  • 6.4% of patients had 15 or more original prescriptions issued
  • 42.2% of patients had at least one pathology test result. Patients who had higher numbers of pathology test results were more likely to be older, or to have a chronic condition such as heart failure. 
NPS MedicineWise Chief Executive Adjunct Associate Professor Steve Morris said the findings provide a patient-focused overview of general practice activity in Australia.
‘We know that common medicines prescribed in Australia in 2017–18 were those used to treat cardiovascular and nervous system disorders. Opioids account for 10% of all original prescriptions and are the focus of a new national NPS MedicineWise educational program launched this month,’ he said.
‘This report also contains insights such as which medicines are most likely to be prescribed privately, in which circumstances repeat prescriptions are being issued, and ways MedicineInsight data are already being used in quality improvement projects.
‘I want to acknowledge general practices around Australia for their willingness to share their de-identified data. This, combined with the excellent data governance framework surrounding the data, ensures that this information is used for public good and to ultimately improve health outcomes.’

chronic disease general practice mental health NPS MedicineWise

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