Primary content

hints & tips team in meeting

Module 1: Commit

  • Introducing quality improvement to your practice is an opportunity to update and promote breast, bowel and cervical cancer screening, referral and treatment HealthPathways. When considering your work plan, allow time to update HealthPathways so they are ready to promote on the launch of your cancer screening quality improvement activities.
  • Providing your HealthPathways team with a link to this toolkit may help them to consider inclusions for cancer screening HealthPathways.
  • It’s important that your practice support and cancer screening staff are confident in supporting the primary care providers within your PHN area to use this toolkit. The Cancer Institute NSW will provide training for PHN representatives who can then provide training and guidance to practices within their PHNs.
  • When work planning, PHNs may like to consider factoring in staff training activities to ensure your team has the confidence and skills they need to promote and support the cancer screening quality improvement toolkit.
  • PHNs are encouraged to embed the cancer screening toolkit within existing approaches to quality improvement and practice engagement. You may wish to consider how cancer screening quality improvement can be integrated and cross-promoted with:
    • existing quality improvement processes and activities including:
      • the Practice Incentive Program Quality Improvement Incentive
      • methods used by your organisations for presenting quality improvement data to practices in an interesting and accessible way (e.g. data ‘dashboards’)
    • existing cancer and cancer screening initiatives and activities within your region
    • patient-centred medical home’ programs and principles.
  • If your PHN has tailored tools and methods that it uses to present and support quality improvement activities, you may wish to implement the toolkit using your own templates, data collection and reporting approaches. Think about how you will present and support cancer screening quality improvement so that it can be a sustainable activity within your organisation.
  • Practices respond well to opportunities to engage with other practices in their area who are also undertaking quality improvement to increase cancer screening participation. PHNs can support this collaboration through:
    • education events
    • workshops
    • networking activities
    • interactive communication platforms, such as Basecamp or private social media groups.
  • Practices value interaction with their cancer screening and management ‘neighbourhood’. Members of the neighbourhood are often happy to speak at events and workshops free of charge. This neighbourhood can include:
    • BreastScreen (management, health promotion and radiology staff all provide interesting information for general practice)
    • cancer specialists
    • allied health staff providing support to cancer patients
    • cancer nurse specialists
    • local cancer research, support and service organisations
    • community groups who represent( or service) groups at risk of under-screening
  • It is recommended that PHNs consider seeking continuous professional development (CPD) points for this toolkit. The toolkit will provide documentation (e.g. learning objectives and pre/post-surveys) to support the CPD registration process. Pre- and post-survey templates are available from the Cancer Institute NSW Primary Care Portfolio Manager.

Module 2: Clean

Benchmarking is a very important part of quality improvement in the primary care setting. It provides motivation and direction for practice teams, and allows teams to track progress over time.10

Prior to launching the toolkit, PHNs should consider:

  • how and when they will request participating practices to submit cancer screening participation data
  • how they will present data back to practices in a way that allows them to track their performance over time and against other practices.

Some PHNs use data audit tools to regularly extract and present benchmark data to their practices in ‘dashboard’ formats.


Module 3: Connect

Consider how your PHN can support practices to develop and implement tools for gathering, analysing and implementing patient feedback.

Consider how your PHN can identify and share the experience of practices who have implemented:

  • the cancer screening workflow (either modified or unmodified)
  • updated reminder systems
  • systematic family history taking
  • health assessment and GPMP templates that integrate cancer screening
  • software to strengthen point-of-care reminders.

Module 4: Care

  • The Australian Health and Safety Commission’s National statement on health literacy provides guidance on what support organisations, such as PHNs, can offer to improve health literacy.
  • PHNs may wish to consider what research, data extraction, analysis and dissemination they can undertake to build practices’ insight into under-screened populations. 
  • PHNs can request BreastScreen NSW participation rates, by location and language group, using the BreastScreen NSW data request form
  • The Cancer Institute NSW Multicultural Data App may be of assistance and includes:
    • profiles of top 50 Languages and Country of Birth in NSW, by geographic area and local health district 
    • analysis for each language group from the top 20 languages for NSW, as relevant to bowel, breast and cervical screening programs. 
  • Working with primary care providers, relevant stakeholders and the community to undertake consumer research with under-screened populations can support practices to better understand barriers and enablers to screening in the local context. An example of this type of research, undertaken by North Coast Primary Health Network, can be found here.
  • Mapping and strengthening the cancer screening neighbourhood is an important support function that PHNs can undertake. This can improve collaboration and coordination between practices, BreastScreen NSW, Local Health Districts, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) and other relevant community organisations and services (e.g. multicultural groups, disable peoples organisations, community transport providers, cancer advocacy groups, breast care nurses, etc).

Module 5: Continue

It is important to plan how your PHN will do the following:

  • Support practices to sustain the organisational and system changes they have made as part of the cancer screening toolkit. For example,
    • build support and follow up the action plans of participating practices into your practice support team’s work plans and key performance indicators
    • establish mechanisms for sharing good practice between your participating practices.
  • Continue to grow engagement in cancer screening quality improvement by communicating the experience of practices in your footprint. This will require a good understanding of how you will monitor, report and communicate the impact of the toolkit.
getting started on computer

Tips to effective collaboration and planning before you begin

Male GP with patient

An overview of quality improvement principles and aims, as well as an introduction to the bowel, breast and cervical programs.

Clicking through data on ipad

Eight steps to establish clean cancer screening data and a cancer screening participation baseline for your practice.

Woman looking at phone

Guidelines on how to improve cancer screening reminders and point-of-care information for patients.

Mother and son in consultation with doctor

Information and resources to improve your practice’s delivery of patient-centred care for those most at risk of non-participation in cancer screening.

patient with doctor writing notes

How to review and clarify that the work you have done will result in sustainable improvements to your practice’s cancer screening systems and processes.

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