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ICGP hub to produce detailed data on general practice

A new ICGP research hub aimed at producing statistics on general practice activity has been established after funding was secured through the Department of Health’s Sláintecare programme. GP Dr Mike O’Callaghan has been appointed as the part-time Clinical Lead for the hub and a full-time data analyst is expected to be in place by the end of the month.

Overall, approximately €92 million in funding was allocated by Government to Sláintecare projects in 2021. Commenting on the development, ICGP President Dr Margaret O’Riordan told the Medical Independent that significant funding had been provided for the hub.

“We’ve always been limited in Ireland by a lack of metrics and analysis, particularly in primary care. The whole focus of this research hub is to start developing those metrics so as to have more information to drive GP development and to have more statistics on activity and analysis. I think that’s a very positive development.”

The initiative will use relevant metrics and nationally available data to shape general practice, drive safe patient care and generate information about resourcing gaps in the health service and integration with secondary care, according to the ICGP.

The lack of statistics and data on general practice activity in Ireland has long been viewed as a drawback for GPs in talks with health officials on the need for greater investment. It is hoped the hub will generate up-to-date, accurate data on the level of work undertaken in general practice and help to drive developments in the specialty.

The job advertisement for a data analyst explains that “to implement Sláintecare and ensure integration across healthcare services, outcomes from new health pathways and other initiatives… quality data and analysis to drive appropriate clinical decisions is needed”.

“Carefully selected metrics and their analysis will shape general practice development, drive safe patient care, generate information about resource allocation, utilisation, gaps in the service and integration with secondary care.

“To achieve these aims, a research hub is being established with access to nationally available data-sets such as the PCRS [Primary Care Reimbursement Service], Healthlink data, e-referrals data, and chronic disease management returns along with data directly from GPs.” See news interview, p12.

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