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Aust Fam Physician. 2007 Jan-Feb;36(1-2):36-40.

The quality of data on general practice - a discussion of BEACH reliability and validity.

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Australian GP Statistics and Classification Centre, University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.



The quality of data used to measure quality is as important as quality of care itself. Any organisation undertaking studies within general practice should ensure the methods they adopt meet these 'best practice' standards, to ensure and demonstrate the reliability, representativeness and quality of their data. The BEACH (Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health) program is a continuous national study of general practice activity in Australia that began in April 1998.


This article describes the methods used to ensure and test BEACH data representativeness and reliability, and responds to frequently asked questions.


BEACH measures the process of care at general practitioner-patient encounters including problems managed and treatments provided. BEACH data are used by the profession, government, researchers and industry. We discuss how BEACH data differ from Medicare Benefits Schedule, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and National Health Survey data. We also consider challenges to achieving national electronic collection of health data in general practice in Australia.

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