The Collaborative methodology is the framework for the Australian Primary Care Collaboratives (APCC) Program. A Collaborative is about actually doing and improving. A key component of the doing and improving within it is the Model for Improvement. This highly successful quality improvement tool provides a framework for developing, testing and implementing changes. It helps to break down the change effort into small, manageable chunks which are then tested to ensure that things are improving and that no effort is wasted.
The Collaborative methodology works because:
- It is straightforward and structured.
- It uses knowledge about what already works rather than trying out new ideas through research or pilot studies.
- There is dedicated support for participants.
- It promotes ‘protected time’ (time specifically set aside for quality improvement work), for participants to spend together solving problems as a team.
- It is designed to implement change in small manageable cycles and identify where a change actually leads to an improvement.
- Changes are measured so that the improvement can be demonstrated.
How can a General Practice get the most out of a APCC Program?
- Set aside dedicated time to work on the Program. Your practice will need to commit some protected time each week for participating staff to undertake Program work. Regular dedicated time helps the practice move through change at a reasonable pace.
- Attend and actively participate in the learning workshops. A Program wave consists of a series of learning workshops. Your practice will need to allocate time for one GP and one practice staff member to attend the workshops or meetings.
- Collect and report data, and use the ‘Model for Improvement’ to test and implement change.
What kind of improvements can you expect to achieve?
Some of the measurable improvements that APCC participants have achieved include:
- Improved patient outcomes through better management of diabetes and coronary heart disease
- Changes in service delivery to improve efficiency within the practice
- Increased best practice care through better use of information systems (both medical and business systems)
- Shift from reactive individual patient care to proactive population based care
- Increased use of protocols and procedures to improve practice operations and efficiency
- Enhanced clinical reporting and functionality (i.e. data cleaning to produce valid registers and reports)