A new report released on Monday by the Department of Health and NPS MedicineWise has revealed the most common reasons why Australians visit their doctor or GP.
The General Practice Insights Report 2016-17 report shows that Australians are most likely to visit a GP to obtain a prescription, review their existing health conditions and for upper respiratory tract infections.
Using MedicineInsight data from GPs’ own clinical software, de-identified information from 2.1 million patients across 475 general practices across the nation were included in the findings. In terms of chronic health conditions, hypertension (high blood pressure), depression, dyslipidemia (high cholesterol), anxiety and asthma were the biggest reasons why Aussies visited a health professional.
Meanwhile, the most frequently prescribed medications were found to be penicillin, antidepressants, opioids and medication for peptic ulcers and reflux. The information, which also showed 42 per cent of patients had at least one pathology test, is already being used to assist GPs in their treatment and to improve the health of Aussies.
“This new MedicineInsight report provides examples of areas of practice where GPs were shown how they were currently managing patients, and where there may have been potential to improve health outcomes,” NPS MedicineWise CEO Steve Morris said in a statement.
For example, data showed around 43 per cent of patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease were not prescribed guideline-recommended and potentially life-saving statin therapy.
“We subsequently undertook a targeted education program to help GPs better identify and manage patients at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease,” Morris explained.
The General Practice Insights Report is a working paper and uses a source of data in a way that’s never been done before on a national scale. NPS MedicineWise also sought advice from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to ensure data included was nationally representative.
MedicineInsight is the first large-scale, national primary care data program in Australia that extracts patient information from the clinical software used in general practice. One of the most important things is to ensure a patient’s data is always protected. This is extremely important, given many people are concerned about their medical information being made public when the digital My Health Record comes into effect from January 31.
“Data are always encrypted during transit and storage following government and industry best practice standards, patient level data are de-identified at the source, meaning personal identifiers are not extracted from practice data,” Morris explained.
In addition to giving insights into the biggest medical problems for Australian patients, it is hoped the data will provoke discussion within the general practice community so more insights can be gained and clinicians and consumers can work together for better health outcomes for all Aussies.