The Australian Primary Care Collaboratives program (APCC) is a proven system of improving health care through shared learning, peer support, training, education and support systems. The program uses the quality improvement methodology "Plan, Do, Study, Act", rapid cycles of testing and measurement of the effects of small change ideas to drive and build sustainable improvements.

The Department of Health fund the Improvement Foundation of Australia to provide the Primary Care Collaborative Program to General Practice across Australia.

Twenty five of our practices are currently participating, or have previously participated in a wave of the APCC program. Six of these Practices are involved in the current wave.

PDSA diagram

Current APCC wave topic is

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Management

Previous waves of the program have included:

  • eHealth – preparing for the national roll out of the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR)
  • Diabetes Management and Prevention
  • A Quality Improvement National Wave allowing for locally chosen topics – in our region we focused on Advance Care Planning in General Practice

Value for General Practice

  • Peer Support and Shared Learning: Practices involved in the program have found it very useful to meet with the other participating practices, both in formal learning workshops and in informal interactive sessions over a meal, to share ideas and to problem solve
  • Shared Resources: A range of resources have been developed and shared locally, including hand held diabetes and CHD records, waiting room posters, appointment education slips and practice information brochures
  • Improved Intra Practice Communication: As part of the process, practices review their communication strategies across the practice team. Some have established routine team meetings for the very first time. Others have adapted electronic messaging systems or practice bulletins.
  • Data Cleansing: A big focus of the program has been data cleansing, including inactivation of old files, deceasing policies and procedures, as well as correct and complete recording of clinical measures and other health data (in a searchable repository). This focus helps practices prepare for accreditation; for instance with improved levels of recording of smoking status and allergies
  • System Improvements: The program helps practices think in terms of system improvements and supports small, incremental and achievable change. Many of the practices involved have developed more efficient care planning processes, including nurse led diabetes clinics. Other practices have introduced ‘Quick Solution Clinics’ – a short session of 5 minute appointments for scripts and other simple issues. Still other practices have become better at developing contingency plans for GP leave, staff sick leave and maternity leave. In the most recent wave involving diabetes prevention, practices developed good systems to screen and follow up results of the AUSDRISK Tool for large numbers of people
  • Kicking Goals: Many of the practices involved showed real improvements in their clinical targets for both diabetes and heart disease (BP, Cholesterol, HbA1c) and in reducing the wait time for appointments
  • Trail Blazing: This especially applies to the 6 practices involved in the E-Wave, who are the first group to undertake preparation for the PCEHR roll out and in doing so will be able to share invaluable learnings from this process to the next group of practices to take on this challenge

Program Officer

Monica Murnane

Ph: 03 5222 0800