Should You Get Your Australian Medical Practice Accredited?

Medical Accreditation
Accreditation is independent recognition that a medical practice meets industry standards for general practices set by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).

The Standards for general practice cover services including access to care; rights and needs of patients; safety and quality including education and training; practice management; and physical factors including equipment and clinical support process. Under the latest standards, medical practices seeking accreditation are required to obtain patient feedback.

GP practice accreditation is voluntary, however the majority of practices in Australia – around 80% –undergo accreditation because of the benefits it provides both to the practice and to its patients. Accreditation provides an opportunity to streamline systems and increase team morale. Other advantages of medical practice accreditation are that it:

  • Reassures practice owners, staff and patients that the practice meets minimum safety and quality standards.
  • Demonstrates the practice is dedicated to deliver high quality care to patients.
  • Shows the practice is committed to continuous quality improvements through policies, culture, risk management and staff training.
  • Provides access to Medicare’s Practice Incentive Program (PIP).
  • Gives a competitive advantage over practices that are not accredited.

There are several steps to achieving and maintaining medical practice accreditation. The steps typically involve initial registration with an accreditation provider and obtaining a quote, then self-assessment for a practice to gain an understanding of how to meet the RACGP standards. The self-assessment is then submitted to the accreditation provider who will send a survey team to conduct an on-site review to assess the practice. The team provides a survey report for submission to the accreditation provider. If the practice is found not yet compliance, it will be offered the opportunity to submit additional evidence. Finally a decision is made by the provider on the GP practice accreditation status.

In Australia there are two agencies that provide medical practice accreditation, Australian General Practice Accreditation Limited (AGPAL) and GPA Accreditation. Both offer templates, fact sheets, accreditation visit checklists and webinars to assist medical practices prepare and meet the standards. In order to maintain accreditation status, onsite audits take place every three years. During the initial survey and subsequent audits, the clinic remains open so that surveyors can witness usual practice procedures.

GP practice accreditation is a way of identifying areas of improvement and taking the necessary steps to meet best practice guidelines. Practices who have undertaken accreditation say they found the process helpful in streamlining processes leading to greater efficiency. Accreditation works best when it is planned well in advance, responsibility for specific areas is allocated to different staff, and the entire practice team is involved.