King's Fund to suggest alternative general practice quality measures

The King's Fund's extensive inquiry into general practice will attempt to find ways to measure 'overlooked' aspects of general practice, the project's director has said.

Mr Goodwin said the research would critique all of the different approaches in general practice
Mr Goodwin said the research would critique all of the different approaches in general practice

Nick Goodwin, senior fellow at the King's Fund and project director of the inquiry, said the research would aim to quantify important aspects of general practice such as continuity of care and the ‘therapeutic relationship' between GPs and patients.

But, he stressed, reports that the year-long inquiry would be rejecting all current measures of quality and access were inaccurate.  

‘Quality metrics used in general practice is a pretty crowded field and we will be critiquing all of the different approaches... but it is not entirely accurate to say we will be rejecting existing indicators.'

Mr Goodwin said the panel of researchers were just starting to discuss how incentives could be used to improve quality in areas that GPs and patients feel are important.

‘The argument about whether GPs are over-measured will inevitably be discussed,' he added.

The inquiry will produce ‘some illustrative examples' of ways to measure the more personal and often overlooked aspects of healthcare that GPs and patients value, like continuity of care.

Dr Mike Dixon, chair of the NHS Alliance and also on the inquiry's panel, said in his practice, he measured continuity of care with a ‘relatively simple' calculation of how often patients have to see a different GP.

‘If there isn't quantification of these things then they will be ignored,' said Dr Dixon.  

Research papers from the inquiry are expected to be published towards the end of May with its final report due later in the year.

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