Could it be that the methods used to turn industrial manufacturers like General Electric into lean, mean production machines can be successfully adapted and applied in general practices across Australia to help patients with heart disease?
With National Heart Week coming up on 4-10 May, it is a timely reminder that heart disease is the largest single cause of death in Australia. Once a person has a heart attack, they are also more likely to have a second heart attack.
There are practical and simple things people can do to improve their life expectancy. People often turn to their general practitioners (GPs) for trusted advice on what changes they can make to improve their health and prevent a heart attack from occurring.
But where can GPs go to ensure they are in the best position possible to offer advice based on the latest research? How do they handle the growing demand for their services at a time when many patients experience long waits to see their GP and chronic diseases, which need complex and ongoing treatment, are on the rise?
GPs are turning to the Australian Primary Care Collaboratives Program (APCC). Delivered by the Improvement Foundation, APCC is Australia’s first and largest quality improvement program for general practices. Quality improvement has traditionally been used as a tool to improve productivity and reduce waste in manufacturing processes. Improvement Foundation has adapted and applied it with great success in general practices across the country. More and more GPs are now recognising the beneficial results that quality improvement techniques deliver to their practices and also to their patients.
APCC trainers have worked with thousands of GPs and their teams to deliver best practice medical care while improving efficiency at the same time. A large part of this training involves using quality improvement methods to adapt and streamline their daily work processes. This enables care teams to establish better systems to support the type of proactive care that experts know helps improve quality of life for patients with chronic diseases like heart disease, and to ultimately save lives.
Breed Street Clinic in rural Traralgon, Victoria is participating in the latest round of APCC training, which has a focus on improving the care of patients with heart disease, and identifying those who might be at risk.
GP, Dr Paul Brougham, says his decision to participate was an easy one, “We identified the APCC Program as an opportunity to help us develop a more systematic approach for patients with chronic conditions like heart disease. By applying the quality improvement approach we are learning through the APCC, we are delivering better care for these patients.”
Dr Robert Grenfell, National Cardiovascular Health Director, at the Heart Foundation said, “unfortunately we know that many patients are slipping through the cracks. People at high risk of a heart attack are not being identified in general practices and those who have already had a heart attack are not being managed according to the evidence base. The Improvement Foundation’s quality improvement methods have a proven track record in enhancing patient management systems in GP clinics. We are working closely with Improvement Foundation to ensure the training provided assists general practices in providing high quality care using the latest evidence, and has a strong emphasis on patient focused care”.