Prescribing patterns in general practice: A comparison of two data sources

Jane Robertson, D. Henry, T. Dobbins, Arn Sprogis, Richard Terry, M. Ireland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: To compare data captured by an electronic general practice prescribing package with prescribing data from the Health Insurance Commission (HIC). METHODS: Twenty GPs from the Hunter Urban Division of General Practice (HUDGP) used the electronic prescribing package. Data for June-July 1996 were analysed. Prescribing data for all GPs (n = 369) in the HUDGP were extracted from HIC files to provide the comparison. RESULTS: Each data source had limitations, and provided different, but complementary information. HIC data allowed calculation of prescribing rates (prescriptions per 100 Medicare services), but had incomplete capture of information on some classes of drugs, and no information on the patients receiving the drugs or the indications for the use of the drugs. The HUDGP database could only provide information on choice of agent when the decision to prescribe something had been made. However, it provided the context information (patient characteristics, indication for use, other medications) that could permit some assessment of the appropriateness of therapy. CONCLUSIONS: HIC data may be useful for an overall assessment of divisional activities. However, for a full assessment of the quality of prescribing at the level of individual GPs, additional patient related information is required. This requires much wider use of electronic prescribing packages that can capture the clinical details needed to review the appropriateness of treatment decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1186-1190
Number of pages5
JournalAustralian Family Physician
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


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