Sunday, May 3, 2009

Consumers, General Practice and General PRactitioners

The GP Task Force is interested in identifying consumer needs and expectations about general practice and general practitioners. Janne Graham is member of the GP Task Force and has written this post based on her considerable experience as a consumer representative and work completed by the Consumers Health Forum.

The organized health consumer movement has consulted widely with consumers on their experiences and perceptions of general practice, and their engagement with practitioners.

Generally research on consumer satisfaction highlights differences between the criteria applied by doctors and by consumers to a consultation in general practice.

What people want from their general practices includes:

Structural Issues
  • Bulk billing/ affordable access
  • Physical access, both locality and building design
  • Out-of hours access
  • Gender choice
  • Good appointment systems – emergency and routine.

Consumers use different medical services for different needs. For conditions perceived to require extended care consumers prefer “traditional” general practices.

Process Issues
  • Holistic approach, including knowledge of and referral to other health and community resources
  • Improved preventive approach.

Outcome Issues
Providing explanations, diagnosis, outlining expectations of interventions and treatment
GPs as managers/team leaders seen as valuable when done well but not always necessary
Gatekeeper role acknowledged relating to access to health services but problematic (particularly for people with disabilities) when relating to other social resources (e.g. pensions)

“Some consumers place greater emphasis on accessibility of the practice, some on the attributes and qualities of the practitioners and some on the quality of care available. These differences might vary for different consumers, or groups of consumers, including those with special needs.” Review of Standards of General Practice p2


Consumer Perspectives on General Practice Restructuring, Consumers Health Forum of Australia, undated (1991?)

Building Links with Consumers: The Key to Quality General Practice, Consumers Health Forum of Australia, 1993.

Consumers Expectations of General Practice in Australia, Consumers Health Forum of Australia April 1999

Putting Consumers in the Picture – Consumer Perspectives on Better Integration of General Practice and Other Primary Health Care and Related Services
, Consumers Health Forum of Australia, June 1999

Review of Standards of General Practice
, Consumers Health Forum of Australia, March 2004

Wade T Engaging Consumers with General Practice in Primary Care Development in The Australian Health Consumer, No 2 2003-4, pp27-8

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