Through our work, we have data and insights into some of the challenges and opportunities for registered health practitioners and, more broadly, for the healthcare system in Australia.
We want to use this knowledge and experience to support practitioners to practise professionally and so they can identify and manage risk in their practice. Our aim in sharing these insights is to promote a culture of reflection and continuous improvement for practitioners that protects the public and contributes to the safety and quality of healthcare.
We are exploring opportunities to share more detailed insights directly with health practitioners, such as through profession-specific newsletters and case studies. We will also look for ways to share relevant insights with consumers and our health system partners.
Our data show there are risks to the public and for practitioners in the following areas.
Practitioners are encouraged to look after their own health and support their health practitioner colleagues. Practitioners who have concerns about their own or a colleague’s health are encouraged to seek support. For many practitioners (dentists, doctors, pharmacists, nurses and midwives), free and confidential support services are available from their profession’s dedicated practitioner health service.
Practitioners can invite feedback from patients and colleagues. They can reflect on any feedback received and consider the expectations set out in their code of conduct or equivalent. Practitioners can learn or refresh themselves on what is involved in culturally safe healthcare and reflect on whether they are providing culturally safe healthcare and what changes they could make to overcome any unintentional shortcomings (remembering that only Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples can define whether care is culturally safe).
Practitioners could reflect on their processes for maintaining health records, ensuring that they are sufficient to support the care being provided. There are resources that practitioners can access to help them, including guidance resources and electronic record-keeping programs.
Practitioners can reflect on their communication with patients and colleagues, and identify and quickly address communication breakdowns in their practice. This can support better relationships and more engaged patients who have a deeper understanding of their care.
Practitioners can reflect on their approach to informed consent – and the expectations set out in their code of conduct or equivalent, and consider whether their communication or documentation of consent can be strengthened. Remember that informed consent is individual and different people may need more information and time to consider it than others. Practitioners should use simple language to explain what is involved in the physical examination, and check that the patient has understood. What has worked in the past with one person may not be effective or appropriate for another. In some circumstances, recording that a patient has consented to the specific, physical contact that will occur during the examination can be helpful evidence of informed consent.
Our research and evaluation work improves our regulatory effectiveness and helps us become an evidence-informed regulator.
Research projects focused on were:
To implement the National Scheme research ethics position statement, we now have a formal arrangement with Queensland Health’s Prince Charles Hospital to use their National Health and Medical Research Council-registered human research ethics committee (HREC).
The National Scheme’s Combined Meeting's program incorporated research and evaluation, discussing the potential use of augmented intelligence in regulation.
We participated in the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre’s Telehealth Datathon. In this competition, participants use real data to answer real questions, solve health management challenges and produce data visualisations and models that can be applied to support business processes and decision-making. Ahpra was the only regulator participating and we won the retrospective analysis section.
We produce publications for peer-reviewed health journals, to share knowledge. Publications were:
While the comprehensive national regulation data that Ahpra collects have registration, workforce planning, demographic, commercial and research value, the National Law and the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) impose strict limits on their use. Our data access and research policy focuses on helping researchers and other parties to better understand the process for considering requests for data and research.
Ahpra’s website outlines the data already available and how to access them, the processes for accessing data not publicly available, and the policies and legislation that govern what can and cannot be released.
National Boards and Ahpra regularly collaborate on shared policy issues, when the issue involved affects professions similarly. This collaboration facilitates effective, collaborative care, supports good inter-professional practice and helps to simplify the regulatory landscape. It makes it easier for the public, practitioners and employers to know what to expect of registered health practitioners.
We have continued to explore and expand how our work as a health practitioner regulator can support registered health practitioners to provide safe and effective care in their professional practice.
Registered health practitioners continued to play a vital role in treating and containing COVID-19 and supporting the national vaccination program. We continued to develop, review and refine policy advice to National Boards to support timely, proactive regulatory responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of our efforts to support health practitioners, we developed temporary policy positions to support:
We also reviewed and updated our telehealth guidance for practitioners to support the provision of safe virtual care, and are working with National Boards to monitor the need for further guidance.
We issued several position statements to provide further advice and guidance on National Boards’ expectations of registered health practitioners in response to emerging issues, including:
Ahpra develops policy resources and tools to support regulatory policy development and provides policy advice to National Boards. Together with the National Boards, we provided input to external policy consultations and reviews for:
So that National Boards’ regulatory requirements remain contemporary and relevant, we continued our work:
Arranging our strategy into themes helps us to communicate how we will achieve our vision
To protect the public, we must maintain a strong focus on having efficient and effective core regulatory functions. This includes being responsive to the rapidly evolving nature and scope of health practitioner practice and ensuring that our financial planning and management approaches achieve long-term financial sustainability.
We use our data to understand critical issues in health practitioner regulation and the healthcare environment and make sure our standards, codes and guidelines continue to be supported by strong evidence. We are developing and improving our systems and processes to identify risk and make sure we have a strong, reliable and consistent framework for data, analysis, evaluation and reporting.
We are focused on building the trust and confidence that the public, health practitioners, organisational partners and other stakeholders have in the National Scheme.
We are focused on creating a workplace that is: psychologically and physically safe for all; enhances the capability, learning and development of our people; and embeds a culture that motivates our people to actively participate and achieve positive outcomes in all that we do.