The General Practice located at Blackburn Clinic (Suite 5) surveyed 351 patients using a Practice Accreditation and Improvement Survey (PAIS). The PAIS is a well-established patient survey widely used by general practices across Australia to gather valuable feedback from patients, which informs meaningful quality improvement within the organisation.
97% of all patient ratings about the Blackburn Clinic general practice were ’good, very good or excellent’.
There were 28 areas assessed by the survey and the results were so positive that it was difficult to choose areas that we should target for improvement. We were excited to learn that the patient feedback from our previous accreditations (in 2016 and 2019) shows that we have consistently improved in all 28 areas over those seven years!
When compared with other metropolitan clinics of similar size we scored in the upper and middle quartiles for everything. In order to select the three areas with the greatest room for improvement, we have compared against ALL participating practices (regardless of size and location):
Seeing the doctor of choice
We scored 71 compared to the benchmark median score of 81 (out of 100)
We understand the frustration with not being able to see your doctor of choice every time. The next best option is for you to choose a “back-up doctor” from the quality group of GPs who consult from Blackburn Clinic, Blackburn Specialist Centre and the Carson Suite. That way you can get to know a second doctor, so that when your first choice isn’t available you can still see someone familiar.
Not all GPs can work full-time. As independent medical practitioners they need to balance their time, commitments and health like everyone else. As you may appreciate, GPs have a high intensity job and need to ensure that they remain at the top of their game in order to treat patients safely and effectively. Therefore, your GP will not be available every week of the year. One advantage for Carson Suite patients is that they have access to a pool of 24 GPs across the three sites, meaning that they can still access care even when their preferred GP is not available.
Although we understand the frustration of having to choose between waiting for an appointment with your GP, or taking an earlier appointment with another GP that you don’t know, this is a situation that is unfortunately unlikely to change. Some things that you can do to manage such situations include:
- Speak up – ask questions about your condition, the treatment options, why the GP is recommending one option more than other options.
- Ask for an information flyer about your condition if you want more detail. This is always better than relying on “Dr Google” because the GP will use reliable sources for the information.
- Ask the GP to read the notes that your usual GP wrote at a previous visit if you are struggling to explain your situation.
- The 5 questions recommended by ‘Choosing Wisely Australia’ are:
- Do I really need this test, treatment or procedure?
- What are the risks?
- Are there simpler, safer options?
- What would happen if I don’t do anything about it?
- What are the costs likely to be?
Information on fees
We scored 77 compared to the benchmark median score of 83 (out of 100)
This criteria was identified for improvement by a patient feedback survey at Blackburn Specialist Centre in May 2023, and since then we have expanded the amount of information on our websites regarding fees (there is a page on each website labelled FEES). We have also increased the amount of information on the waiting room TVs about fees. Your feedback shows we need to do even more.
“There are nearly 6,000 MBS item numbers. GPs can charge for one or more MBS items for a patient service.” (Source: https://theconversation.com/medicare-billing-is-a-problem-but-our-research-found-many-more-gps-undercharge-203561). As costs differ for different item numbers, and reception cannot predict which item numbers will be billed, this means there are many possibilities when it comes to the cost of a visit.
We empathise with patients and understand that uncertainty around fees can be stressful. Patients are encouraged to discuss any financial difficulties with their GP.
We will investigate adding an insert page to our Patient Information Brochure, with more examples of commonly billed item numbers and associated fees. We can also increase the number of examples on the FEES page of our websites. The GPs who consult from Blackburn Clinic Carson Suite are independent medical practitioners, with full discretion over their own billing. To maximise consistency, we have a Standard Gap during Mon-Fri (8am-6pm) for most ‘consultation’ items of $60.60, and a Concession Gap that is roughly half the Standard Gap.
Opportunity for making complaints
We scored 76 compared to the benchmark median score of 81 (out of 100)
We encourage feedback and view it as an opportunity for improvement. We have a permanent “Feedback/Suggestions” box fixed to the wall of the waiting room at Blackburn Clinic, with forms available under that box. Alternately, you can:
- write to the Practice Manager (PO Box 42, Blackburn South VIC 3130, or
- email firstname.lastname@example.org and your feedback/complaint will be passed on to the most appropriate team members for response.
If you need to take the matter further, you may contact the Health Complaints Commissioner, Level 26, 570 Bourke St, Melbourne 3000. Phone: 1800 582 113.
We thank the patients who completed surveys for Blackburn Clinic and are overjoyed that the vast majority of feedback showed that our efforts to provide professional and caring service are being recognised.