Data is for funding, not ‘My GP’ contest
THEY have already been dubbed GP ‘league tables’ – but the organisation set to publish comparison data between Medicare Locals (MLs) has said the work is only to identify where further funding is needed.
The National Health Performance Authority (NHPA) last week said it would use about 30 indicators endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to compare MLs’ performance within their demographic and geographic situations.
GPs have complained the practice amounted to a ‘My School’ type contest and data meant for determining where resources were needed would instead be used to compare colleagues on often unquantifiable criteria.
But NHPA acting CEO Dr Diane Watson said that performance would only be measured at ML level.
“We’re not measuring the performance of individual doctors; it says that right in our legislation,” she said. “We’ll be reporting on the health system and locally relevant information, right at the Medicare Local level, to be able to describe the services provided and the impact on the population.”
But Perth GP Dr Joe Kosterich warned the data would only confirm what doctors already knew whilst pitting peer against peer.
“As soon as they publish a table someone’s going to be at the top and someone’s going to be at the bottom, and guess what? [Affluent metropolitan suburbs] will be at the top and the ‘back of Bourke’ will be at the bottom,” he said.
Some indicators like “avoidable hospitalisations” were open to interpretation he said, adding “who gets to decide what’s avoidable?”
AGPN chair Dr Emil Djakic backed the program but said MLs must be told how they were being assessed and the government must respond with targeted funding.