Clinical and healthcare improvement through My Health Record usage and education in general practice (CHIME-GP): a study protocol for a cluster-randomised controlled trial

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Background: There is an international interest in whether improved primary care can lead to a more rational use of health resources. There is evidence that educational interventions can lead to improvements in the quality of rational prescribing and test ordering. A new national platform for shared medical records in Australia, My Health Record (MHR), poses new opportunities and challenges for system-wide implementation. This trial (CHIME-GP) will investigate whether components of a multifaceted education intervention in an Australian general practice setting on rational prescribing and investigation ordering leads to reductions in health-service utilisation and costs in the context of the use of a national digital health record system. Methods: The trial will be undertaken in Australian general practices. The aim of the research is to evaluate the effectiveness of components of a web-based educational intervention for general practitioners, regarding rational use of medicines, pathology and imaging in the context of the use of the MHR system. Our target is to recruit 120 general practitioners from urban and regional regions across Australia. We will use a mixed methods approach incorporating a three-arm pragmatic cluster randomised parallel trial and a prospective qualitative inquiry. The effect of each education component in each arm will be assessed, using the other two arms as controls. The evaluation will synthesise the results embedding qualitative pre/post interviews in the quantitative results to investigate implementation of the intervention, clinical behaviour change and mechanisms such as attitudes, that may influence change. The primary outcome will be an economic analysis of the cost per 100 consultations of selected prescriptions, pathology and radiology test ordering in the 6 months following the intervention compared with 6 months prior to the intervention. Secondary outcome measures include the rates per 100 consultations of selected prescriptions, pathology and radiology test ordering 6 months pre- and post-intervention, and comparison of knowledge assessment tests pre- and post-intervention. Discussion: The trial will produce robust health economic analyses on the evidence on educational intervention in reducing unnecessary prescribing, pathology and imaging ordering, in the context of MHR. In addition, the study will contribute to the evidence-base concerning the implementation of interventions to improve the quality of care in primary care practice. Trial registration: ACTRN12620000010998. Registered on 09 January 2020 with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry

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