Re-consent needed for ‘critical’ data resource

Michelle Wisbey

6/12/2023 3:21:37 PM

An RACGP committee has granted MedicineInsight ‘ethics approval’, but practices must sign up again to participate.

People analysing data on blurred background.
Almost 600 medical centres are set to participate in the re-consenting process.

Hundreds of medical centres across the country must resign agreements to continue taking part in MedicineInsight, as the national data collection program takes shape under new custodians.
The reminder comes after the RACGP National Research and Evaluation Ethics Committee gave the green light for the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC) to reestablish the program, following the shuttering of NPS MedicineWise, which ran MedicineInsight until its funding was pulled last year.
With this custodianship change now complete, ACSQHC is currently re-consenting practices and establishing access agreements, with a cutoff date of 31 January 2024.
Access to the dataset is on hold until the processes are complete.   
Around 577 practices have been asked to sign up in a process that will:

  • execute a new practice agreement between these practices and ACSQHC to ensure consent for a practice’s participation in the program remains current and specific under the new custodianship arrangements  
  • provide an opportunity to distribute the new program resource material
  • enable practices and interested GPs to participate in the program’s value proposition with practice reports delivered via a new virtual dashboard and identifying synergies with other ACSQHC program areas.
Professor Mark Morgan, Chair of RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care, told newsGP that the value of general practice data, as well as the cost of collecting, maintaining, and sharing it, means information should not be given away without a clear return in value.
‘NPS MedicineInsight provided data analytic reports and an academic detailing program that contributing GPs found valuable,’ he said.
‘Some of the data extraction tools provide very helpful real-time computer decision support and others provide business analytic reports that help keep practices financially secure.
‘Data extraction tools also help a practice meet the requirements to receive direct pay-for-data within the Practice Incentive Program for Quality Improvement [PIP QI].’
MedicineInsight’s dataset includes information on what is happening in individual general practices and how it compares to similar clinics, with participating practices receiving regular reports on diagnosis and the quality use of medicines.
But the shift in management has not been an easy one, and was met with ‘deep concern’ from GPs when it was announced last year.
The independent not-for-profit NPS MedicineWise had run the program for 24 years previously with Commonwealth Government support, but that funding was cut in the 2022 Federal Budget.
When the handover was revealed, 77% of respondents to a newsGP poll said its closure would negatively impact the safe use of medicine in Australia.
But with the transition now complete, ACSQHC Clinical Director and GP Associate Professor Liz Marles said the commission is keen to hear from GPs about how the program is working, and how it can be improved.
‘MedicineInsight is a critical resource for informing decision makers about what happens in general practice,’ she said.
Professor Morgan said in general, GPs need to understand how their patient-data is shared beyond the practice, and whether they would be able to explain to a patient what happens to that de-identified data.
‘The data has great value to support health planning, ethical primary care research and quality improvement activities,’ he said.
‘Data can also be fed back in ways that help GPs provide more effective healthcare or fed back to make it easier for clinics to be financially rewarding.
‘On the flip side, data can be misused or used for purposes that many would not agree with. For example, data could be sold to pharmaceutical companies or used for public benchmarking of GP performance.’
The RACGP has a set of principles for the secondary use of data outlining its appropriate and inappropriate uses.
Practices who previously participated in MedicineInsight are being individually contacted to go through a new consent process.
Any additional practices interested in participating can contact MedicineInsight on 1300 721 726 (Monday to Friday 8 am – 4 pm) or by emailing
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