Carl's Corner - Reflections of a Clinical Lead, Gold Coast Primary Health Network
Not everything important is measurable
On the 1st August, the Quality Improvement Practice Incentive Payment (PIP QI) finally became a reality for Australian general practices.
After many years of planning, the Department of Health confirmed the three key requirements: that accredited general practices register for participation in PIP QI Incentive, periodically share de-identified data with their Primary Health Networks and that they undertake continuous quality improvement in a structured manner.
Many general practices already meet the last two of these requirements. GCPHN and practices have been using PenCS products like CAT Plus for years to inform their CQI projects. More recently, practices have started using Primary Sense, a bespoke data extraction tool specifically developed for the Gold Coast.
The prevailing consensus in implementation science is that meaningful improvements are usually data-driven. In fact, authors like James Harrington feel “measurement is the first step…to improvement’. According to this paradigm, unless you can measure something, you cannot control or improve it.
Unsurprisingly then, modern organisations routinely (and sometimes reflexively) collect many types of data at considerable cost. In fact, the sheer volume and quality of available data in healthcare increasingly threatens to exceed our available resources and abilities to analyse and use it to its full potential.
Our collective challenges in the Gold Coast are therefore to ensure that the data we use is accurate and reliable, that we use the data in ways that are acceptable, feasible and beneficial for patients and practices and that we ensure the safety and confidentiality of the data.
However, as we embark on our data-driven PIP QI Incentive journey, it is timely to reflect on the words of the late Prof Elliot Eisner that ‘not everything important is measurable, and not everything measurable is important’. There may currently be no indicators or data for compassion, kindness or empathy, but they remain more important than ever.
Dr Carl De Wet
Clinical Lead, Gold Coast Primary Health Network