Objective and subjective assessment of chronic disease management in General Practice. To determine the standard of care provided in the management of asthma, gout and hypothyroidism by means of a medical audit
Asthma, gout and hypothyroidism are common chronic medical disorders encountered in general practice. Optimal disease management according to standard guidelines are fundamental to disease control. This study aimed to objectively and subjectively assess the quality of care provided in a private general practice to patients with asthma, gout and hypothyroidism by means of a practice audit and questionnaire based survey. These tools proved to be an effective measure for the quality of care provided and identified areas needing improvement. Patient’s understanding of the disease process plays an important role in both patient satisfaction ratings and success of disease control. The medical audit identified and highlighted specific areas of care that can be improved. Evidence from the practice audit showed that control for asthma based on the PEFR readings, gout based on the serum uric acid reading and hypothyroidism based on a blood TSH reading, was found at 56.7%, 43.3%, and 66.7 % respectively. In addition acute attacks of asthma and gout occurred in 22.7% and 32.8% respectively. This does not represent good control. Definition of disease control for each condition is placed in the text. The survey revealed overall patient understanding for the disease processes of asthma, gout and hypothyroidism to be 69.6%, 73.3% and 66.8% respectively. The patient survey satisfaction rating for asthma, gout and hypothyroidism was 93.1%, 93.9% and 89.2% respectively. Patient suggestions for improvement included three dominant themes: better assessment of disease control, education about their chronic disease and implementation of a clearer referral process. The study concludes that disease control can be achieved if patients are educated about their chronic disease and regularly followed up to assess disease control based on standard management guidelines. Patients' disease education was a major contributing factor for satisfaction rating bias. The study confirms that in spite of high satisfaction ratings, patients are not optimally managed with substandard disease control. It would be expected that as disease education improves, the quality of care will improve, but satisfaction ratings will decrease.