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17 Dec 2012

AMA Position Statement on Clinical Indicators 2012

The AMA today released a new Position Statement on Clinical Indicators.

The use of clinical and performance indicators in health settings has been steadily increasing over recent decades.

Examples of clinical indicators in general practice include:

  • The percentage of active patients aged 12–80 years who have a smoking status recorded;
  • The percentage of active patients aged 15–80 years who have an alcohol status recorded; and
  • The percentage of sexually-active female patients aged 18–70 years who have been screened for cervical cancer.

AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the AMA recognises the potential benefits of clinical indicators.

“The establishment of a mechanism that enables medical practices to regularly review robust and relevant information about their practice for the purpose of moving to best practice is essential,” Dr Hambleton said.

“When used well, clinical indicators can form part of the suite of measures that lead to quality improvement and better outcomes for patients.

“Our Position Statement outlines how clinical indicators can be used to improve patient care.

“Clinical indicators must be relevant, evidence-based, and easily measured so as to ensure that limited resources are efficiently directed and that the data gathered is worthwhile.

“Clinical indicators that are not supported by evidence risk driving unproven and inappropriate clinical activity.

“When clinical indicators are not used well, they can lead to adverse consequences by focusing on the processes associated with measuring and reporting, rather than focusing on good patient care.

“The AMA believes clinical indicators should be independent of government and developed and ratified by the relevant medical speciality.

“The use of clinical indicators must remain voluntary and free of charge.  They should be used for performance improvement and not used for penalties.”

Quality improvement is the process of reviewing, refining and enhancing the processes for, and activities of, delivering patient care to mitigate risks and ensure better outcomes for patients.

In Australia, quality improvement in the health care system is also supported by:

  • Continuing professional development;
  • Accreditation of healthcare provider organisations;
  • Federal Government funded practice incentives;
  • The establishment of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care; and
  • Audit and peer review processes such as that conducted by the Royal Australian College of Surgeons (RACS).

The AMA Position Statement on Clinical Indicators 2012 – which will be helpful to medical colleges, and other health professionals and policymakers considering developing or using clinical indicators – is available at

17 December 2012

CONTACT:         John Flannery                       02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761
                             Kirsty Waterford                  02 6270 5464 / 0427 209 753

Published: 17 Dec 2012