Enhancing primary care with data-driven clinical support

Monday, 29 April, 2024

Enhancing primary care with data-driven clinical support

The deployment of Primary Sense, a non-commercial population health management, clinical decision support and data extraction tool, seems to be in full swing with around 10,000 general practitioners in more than 1500* practices using the resource.

The original tool was developed by the Gold Coast Primary Health Network (PHN) in 2018, with the WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) leading the development of Primary Sense 2.0, which has been in operation since mid-2022.

Data-driven decision-making

Primary Sense has been developed in conjunction with general practices, universities and representatives from peak bodies. It has been tried and tested among 700 general practitioners (GPs) in the Gold Coast PHN region.

Gill Yearsley, CEO of the Northern Territory PHN and Chair of the Primary Sense Steering Committee, said, “At a time when particularly regional general practice is under pressure, Primary Sense offers GPs and practice staff an excellent range of features to support patient health management and data-driven decision-making. PHNs are committed to strengthening and enhancing this application to bring greater value to general practice and the primary healthcare system.”

In Cairns, Trinity GPs is one of the many general practices in the country transitioning to Primary Sense to enhance patient care. “Having organised data allows us to treat patients accordingly and is also beneficial during accreditation,” said Trinity GPs Practice Manager Daphne Venkatesh.

The team at Trinity GPs routinely engages in data-driven processes, while also exploring where data can optimise patient care, especially for patients with chronic and complex health needs.

“A patient’s digital health record gives general practitioners a good understanding of a patient’s health and conditions, and allows any GP at our clinic to treat the patient now and into the future. It’s beneficial for us both.

Venkatesh said having optimised data also allowed the practice to communicate with patients about chronic illnesses or immunisation, giving an opportunity to send reminders and being proactive and preventative in the provision of health care.

The tool is said to be compatible with major practice clinical software products Medical Director and Best Practice, with Genie and ZEDMED in the development pipeline. Primary Sense is securely hosted in Primary Health Insights (PHI) and all data extracted from the tool is privacy protected, and securely stored and managed in Australia.

Risks, needs and patient categorisation

The team at Trinity GPs is excited about using Primary Sense as it provides real-time medication safety alerts, its seamless integration into workflow supporting effective population health management, Venkatesh said.

“These functionalities will elevate patient care, refine clinical decision-making and efficiently target interventions.”

The Primary Sense platform incorporates the Johns Hopkins University Adjusted Clinical Group (ACG) system, which categorises patients based on their care needs and risks, according to the Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN).

This allows Primary Sense to quickly identify highly complex or at-risk patients and provide reports and alerts to the practice for recommended services, tests or interventions.

All extracted data is deidentified, meaning the data contains no personal identifying information such as name, date of birth, address or Medicare number. Patients can withdraw their consent to share data through Primary Sense at any time.

Efficient resource allocation

Venkatesh said Primary Sense would enhance patient care with real-time alerts and streamlined workflow integration. “Its population health management tools will help target interventions effectively, improving overall health outcomes,” Venkatesh said. “Being free for practices to share data with NQPHN will save costs and allow efficient resource allocation.

“Additionally, its commitment to data security ensures responsible handling of patient information to build trust with patients.”
Primary Sense operates under the clinical oversight of a national Clinical Advisory Group (CAG), which includes as members general practitioners (GPs), clinical specialists, health research academics and representatives of industry peak bodies such as the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and the Australian Association of Practice Management (AAPM).  

Data is one of the key topics to be discussed at the upcoming Digital Health Conference to be held in Melbourne on 7–8 May. For more information or to register, visit this link.

*Number of GPs recording a patient visit in Primary Sense. Data recorded for February 2024. NQPHN.

Image credit: iStock.com/SOMKID THONGDEE

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