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Improving primary care in Australia through the Australian Primary Care Collaboratives Program: a quality improvement report
  1. Andrew W Knight1,
  2. Claire Caesar2,
  3. Dale Ford2,
  4. Alison Coughlin2,
  5. Colin Frick2
  1. 1The Australian Primary Care Collaboratives Program, The Improvement Foundation (Australia), Katoomba, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2The Improvement Foundation (Australia), South Australia, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Andrew Walter Knight, The Australian Primary Care Collaboratives Program, The Improvement Foundation (Australia), PO Box 3645 Adelaide South Australia 5000 Australia; awknight{at}


Problem Effective and affordable health systems have good primary care. Access, equity, care of chronic conditions and quality are key priorities in primary care in Australia.

Design A large-scale quality improvement collaborative addressing diabetes, coronary heart disease (CHD), access, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), patient self-management, Aboriginal health and diabetes prevention.

Setting General practices and Aboriginal medical services across Australia.

Key Measures for Improvement Sample measures are reported.

Strategy for Change The Improvement Foundation (Australia) adapted collaborative strategies used in the UK. Health service teams attended three workshops, separated by activity periods and followed by 12 months of further work. Teams were supported by local collaborative program managers to make changes and report measures. Services received feedback about improvement compared with their wave.

Effects of Change 1185 health services participated in 13 waves between 2005 and 2011. 83% of Australian divisions of general practice participated, and 262 support staff received quality improvement training. Key measures show improvement in all topics except access. 397 111 patients were on the disease registers of participating health services.

Lessons learnt The collaborative methodology is transferable to primary care in Australia. Results may reflect improved data recording and disease coding, as well as changes in clinical care. Team dynamics and local support are important success factors. Collaboratives are a useful tool in a program of clinical quality improvement. The APCC will work with the new primary healthcare organisations which are part of health reforms in Australia to improve data reporting, improve diabetes care and entrench quality improvement in the emerging environment.

  • General practice
  • quality improvement

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

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  • Funding The Australian Primary Care Collaboratives Program is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and delivered by the Improvement Foundation (Australia) Ltd.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement This article publishes a small indicative subset of the data collected by the APCC Program in the course of its improvement work. The complete dataset is held by the Improvement Foundation and is subject to agreements with participating health services which restrict its use. Researchers wishing to access the data may make direct contact with the Improvement Foundation (Australia).

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