General practice accreditation – what is it and what does it mean for patients?
General practice accreditation is an assessment process that ensures a general practice meets a high standard of safety and quality. As a result, accreditation provides the best environment for patient’s healthcare outcomes.
Achieving general practice accreditation is an accomplishment the entire practice team, their patients and local community should be extremely proud of.
Obtaining general practice accreditation with AGPAL provides acknowledgment that a general practice or Aboriginal Medical Service has reached a high standard of safety and quality in their practice, while demonstrating a commitment to sustainable and effective quality improvement processes and initiatives.
Accreditation across the primary care sector has been developed as a means of patient protection, harm minimalisation and risk management. It also ensures general practitioners and their teams, are working in a safe and quality-focused environment to deliver optimal care.
So, what does this mean for patients?
Accreditation is primarily targeted at protecting patients to ensure they receive the highest care possible for themselves and their families.
- Protection of patient privacy
- Clinical team members always maintain appropriate patient health records
- Practice team members undergo ongoing education and training to stay informed about current quality health care
- Patients are provided with a safe environment
- Staff are understanding and responsive to cultural needs, and
- The general practitioner and the practice always ensure effective communication so patients always know and understand everything related to their health.
AGPAL accreditation puts the well-being of all Australian community members as a priority.
By attending an AGPAL accredited general practice, patients are assured of quality and safe care in line with national standards.
The above symbol is an indication that a practice is accredited with AGPAL.
What process does a practice undertake to achieve general practice accreditation with AGPAL?
For a general practice to achieve accreditation with AGPAL, a practice team works to implement continuous quality improvement and adhere to the requirements of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) Standards for general practices. These are the recognised national standards for general practices and provide an industry benchmark for quality care and risk management. In doing so, the RACGP Standards support practice teams to constantly improve to support better patient outcomes.
Each accreditation cycle is three years and involves submission of an online self-assessment and documentary evidence followed by a comprehensive on-site assessment. Experienced AGPAL Surveyors visit the practice to undertake the on-site assessment which involves reviewing systems and processes, policies and procedures and interviewing members of the practice team.
The on-site accreditation assessment provides a deeper behind-the-scenes view into the operations of the general practice.
Examples of areas of focus during an accreditation on-site assessment, include checking:
- Vaccines are stored at the correct temperatures and within their use-by-date
- Clean and sterile practice equipment
- Practice staff are up-to-date with their training, and
- The practice has emergency care available.
For a comprehensive understanding of the Australian general practice accreditation requirements, you can download the RACGP Standards for general practice 5th edition at www.racgp.org.au.