The eCollaborative: using a quality improvement collaborative to implement the National eHealth Record System in Australian primary care practices
The new national patient-controlled electronic health record is an important quality improvement, and there was a pressing need to pilot its use in Australian primary care practices. Implementation of electronic health records in other countries has met with mixed success.
New work was required in general practices participating in the national electronic health record. National implementers needed to engage with small private general practices to test the changes before general introduction.
Choice of solution.
The National E-health Transition Authority contracted the Improvement Foundation Australia to conduct a quality improvement collaborative based on 9 years of experience with the Australian Primary Care Collaborative Program.
Aims, measures and change ideas were addressed in a collaborative programme of workshops and supported activity periods. Data quality measures and numbers of health summaries uploaded were collected monthly. Challenges such as the delay in implementation of the electronic health summary were met.
Fifty-six practices participated. Nine hundred and twenty-nine patients registered to participate, and 650 shared health summaries were uploaded. Five hundred and nineteen patient views occurred. Four hundred and twenty-one plan/do/study/act cycles were submitted by participating practices.
The collaborative methodology was adapted for implementing innovation and proved useful for engaging with multiple small practices, facilitating low-risk testing of processes, sharing ideas among participants, development of clinical champions and development of resources to support wider use. Email discussion between participants and system designers facilitated
improvements. Data quality was a key challenge for this innovation, and quality measures chosen require development. Patient participants were partners in improvement.