To date, more than 320,000 Australians with Type 2 diabetes are benefiting from their GPs taking part in Australia’s largest quality improvement program – the Australian Primary Care Collaboratives (APCC) Program. The APCC Program is designed and delivered by the Improvement Foundation, a not for profit organisation with its head office in Adelaide.
Praised by chronic disease and general practice experts alike, the APCC Program is now entering its tenth year. To date more than 1,800 Australian general practices or 3,500+ primary health care professionals have participated in the national program.
The APCC Program combines proven quality improvement methodology with practical training that incorporates expert advice in chronic disease treatment. This has proven to be a winning combination that helps general practitioners, nurses and practice administration teams to provide best practise, proactive care to their patients with chronic diseases. General practices and other health services who have participated in this specialised training have more than 320,000 patients with diabetes on their books.
So, why is proactive diabetes care with a general practice team so important for a patient’s wellbeing?
Chronic diseases constitute the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in Australia. With diabetes week coming up on 13-19 July, it is a timely reminder that diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in Australia and our fastest growing chronic disease, costing up to $6 billion a year.
When a person experiences ill health as a result of having diabetes, they may be limited in their ability to participate fully in the workforce or family life, and have serious complications.
There is clear evidence that if a person with Type 2 diabetes has their blood sugar level (HBA1c) well controlled, there is less chance of that person developing complications from the disease. Complications can include hospitalisation, amputations, vision problems, heart problems and impaired kidney function. Keeping patients well, and free from secondary complications reduces the likelihood of hospitalisation, and reduces financial pressure on the health system.
With the right systems in place, a busy general practice can make long lasting changes to improve workflows and introduce new systems of work, which build team capacity in quality improvement and chronic disease care, including diabetes care.
Dr Alison Edwards is a GP in rural Port Broughton, South Australia. Her practice participated in the APCC Program in 2006 and has been applying the APCC methods ever since.
She says, “In a busy rural general practice it is very easy to get overly focussed on just meeting the day to day patient demands and reacting to whatever is presented. The APCC Program walked us through ways to work smarter, and work more effectively as a team. We’ve used the model to make great improvements to the way we provide care for our patients with diabetes. We know that the changes we’ve made mean our patients are getting the best possible care, and have better health outcomes as a result.”
A number of articles detailing the success of the Program have been published in international medical journals.
Presentations at high profile international conferences have enabled key experts involved in designing and delivering the APCC Program to share the work and methodology that has been implemented so successfully here in Australia.
Since 2007, the Improvement Foundation has grown from a staff of six to a team of 48 with satellite offices in Brisbane and Melbourne.
The APCC Program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.
For more information please contact Rebecca Esteve, Communications Manager Improvement Foundation, (08) 8422 7499