Studying health conditions and healthcare provided in general practices to improve the patients’ health and quality of life
The vast majority of the population sees a general practitioner (GP) at least once a year. Therefore, the GP is an important source of information about many health problems. We study the frequency of various health issues and the characteristics of the patients who consult a GP. Besides monitoring the frequency of health problems, we carry out specific studies on the care provided to patients. Through individualised feedback, we stimulate quality improvement of the care provided in general practices. Our research initiatives aim to support the public health authorities in defining and evaluating their public health policies.
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Our team is in charge of a surveillance network, the so-called ‘sentinel general practices’, which is running since 1979. The network not only monitors infectious diseases such as influenza, but it also studies various chronic and mental health conditions, such as diabetes and suicide attempts, for instance. The network also studies some specific procedures, such as the final admission of elderly persons in a retirement home or the quality of end-of-life care.
Besides this surveillance network, we carry our specific studies on care and health outcomes for patients participating in dedicated care programs initiated by the public health authorities, such as the ‘care trajectories’ for diabetics and patients suffering from chronic renal failure. Therefore, we use data related to the care processes, the health outcomes provided by general practitioners and other sources. We give an individual feedback on the quality of the provided care, allowing GPs to see how their quality level compares to that of their fellow colleagues. In this way, we stimulate quality improvement, which eventually results in a better health and quality of life for patients.
“Our research contributes to offer a better insight into the importance of various health problems in the population.”