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GP Educational Intervention Improves Patient Care and My Health Record Usage with Potential to Save Government Millions

A two-year study titled CHIME-GP was carried out by Medcast and the University of Wollongong. It has shown that educating GPs about potentially inappropriate or unnecessary medicines, imaging and pathology test ordering in the context of using the My Health Record (MHR) can help reduce unnecessary ordering.

GP Educational Intervention Improves Patient Care and My Health Record usage, Could Save Government Millions

A two-year study titled CHIME-GP was carried out by Medcast and the University of Wollongong. It has shown that educating GPs about potentially inappropriate or unnecessary medicines, imaging and pathology test ordering in the context of using the My Health Record (MHR) can help reduce unnecessary ordering. This is great news for patients as unnecessary interventions are avoided. It is also great for the system, as the trial showed a significant reduction in costs, whilst helping to increase GP confidence and the frequency of use of MHR.

Commissioned by the Australian Digital Health Agency (ADHA), the study was designed to improve GP knowledge, change practice behaviour and improve clinical care, facilitate technology usage into routine care and result in tangible economic benefits. It looked at three distinct educational arms: pathology test ordering, low-back imaging test ordering and medication prescribing. It evaluated the effectiveness of a multifaceted educational intervention across these three arms to promote best practice and health cost savings, with a view to informing future policy making decisions and resource allocation.

Doctors from general practice settings across both urban and regional Australia were recruited to participate in the study. The CPD accredited education was conducted online via interactive webinars and online learning modules. After the study, an economic analysis was undertaken around the cost per 100 consultations of selected prescriptions, pathology and radiology test ordering. It compared costs in the six months prior to the education, to those six months afterwards. Strong signals of change appeared in each arm, with a significant reduction in pathology ordering amongst those that completed the education, resulting in projected savings of $10,000 per GP during the two years following the education. If rolled out to 2,500 GPs per year, this could save the health system an estimated $100 million over a 4 year program.

If rolled out to 2,500 GPs per year, this could save the health system an estimated $100 million over a 4 year program.

Another important finding was that following the education, GP participants were motivated to engage with MHR more and incorporate it into their practice routines. They reported more confidence in deprescribing medications and reducing test ordering, and had a very positive response overall to the educational program.

The CHIME-GP study makes an important contribution to the literature on healthcare quality improvement in the context of MHR, particularly given that there are few randomised controlled trials of quality improvement education interventions in primary care, and even fewer that assess economic outcomes. This study demonstrates that substantial health system savings may be achieved by this intervention, whilst also promoting best-practice clinical behaviour for GPs.

The CHIME-GP Study

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Kate Clutton

Kate Clutton

Kate is the Medcast COO with a clinical background as an Occupational Therapist, experience in strategic advisory services for health care and in public health.

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