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Performance improvements across a number of areas of Indigenous primary health care are shown in a report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

The report, National Key Performance Indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care: First national results June 2012 to June 2013, includes information on 19 indicators focused on chronic disease prevention and management, and maternal and child health. This indicator set covers both 'process of care' indicators to capture information on organisational processes and 'health outcomes' indicators to monitor health status of clients attending health organisations.

'This is a new data collection and data are collected from over 200 primary health care organisations that provide health care mainly to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people,' said AIHW spokesperson Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman.

These data are collected from and reported back to primary health care organisations to help with their continuous quality improvement (CQI) processes to improve the delivery of care for Indigenous people and to improve health outcomes.

The report shows, over the three reporting periods, improvements have occurred across most process of care indicators. For example, the national proportions increased by 5-9 percentage points in a number of indicators, including health assessments for adults, the proportion of babies with birthweight recorded, and clients with type 2 diabetes who received a Team Care Arrangement.

Nationally, 58% of Indigenous babies born in the previous year had their birthweights recorded at a primary health-care organisation as at June 2013. The proportion of Indigenous babies born of low birthweight at these organisations were similar to those recorded nationally.

'Low birthweight is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic disease later in life', so collecting data on birthweight facilitates early intervention and clinical care to reduce the risk of poor health later in life,' Dr Al-Yaman said.

Improvements were also seen in the proportions of adults who received MBS health assessments that show how well the primary health care organisations target early detection, diagnosis and intervention.

Increases were seen in clients with type 2 diabetes who had team care arrangements,  GP management plans as part of their treatment and the proportion of these clients with HbA1c result and blood pressure result within a normal range.

The report showed that organisations with better performance are spread across different geographic and service delivery environments.

'As expected, organisations performed better across more indicators if they had established CQI activities, fewer clients per GP, fewer overall clients and had a high proportion of health staff compared with total staff,' Dr Al-Yaman said.

The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia's health and welfare.

Canberra, 5 May 2014

Further information: Dr Fadwa Al-Yaman, AIHW, tel. (02) 6244 1146, mob. 0407 068 033

Full publication

National Key Performance Indicators for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary health care: First national results June 2012 to June 2013