My story : GP Surveyor for Quality Practice Accreditation

Dr Kelly Lai

MBBS, FRACGP, BSc

Dr Kelly Lai has set himself a noble double-headed task –
to do his best as a doctor and to help others in his profession to do their best.

He is practice director at a General Practice in Brisbane and works part-time as a surveyor for Quality Practice Accreditation, a highly-regarded accreditation specialist helping practices – big and small – maintain the world-class standards set by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

The aim of surveying is straightforward – to make sure patients get the best care possible.

Dr Lai and a non-GP co-surveyor, who usually has nursing or practice management experience, visit up to 40 practices a year and conduct a half-day survey of medical and administration procedures.

If necessary, they then make recommendations on how the practice can improve.

The practices range from large operations in cities to a two-doctor practice in the bush.

There’s much more to surveying than a flying visit, including QPA supporting practices that recognise the need for improvement by providing a Quality Accreditation Manager.

“I enjoy being a QPA surveyor,” says Dr Lai. “It’s such an interesting job.

“We look at how clinics operate overall, including whether the doctors are getting enough support to do their work properly.
“We interview doctors and staff, review clinical and administrative procedures and documentation, and assess equipment and medications among other activities.”

“We ensure that clinical and administrative processes are robust, and that good risk management practices are in place.
“We also look at documentation, such as referral letters and consultation notes, and see if the equipment is appropriate and being properly maintained.”

How is he received?

“The landscape of general practice is very wide and varied, and often you are dealing with very experienced and knowledgeable GPs with strong opinions.

“In most cases this is a good learning experience, and I find that as long as the challenges and discussions are managed in a respectful, non-judgemental and professional manner, with QPA’s support, mutually satisfactory quality improvement outcomes are often achieved.

“Practices are generally very welcoming and friendly – the biggest challenge I have is declining the cake and coffee offered for the sake of weight management.”

Dr Lai says there are many advantages to being a QPA surveyor.

“Doctors spend most of their day in their rooms on their own. Being a surveyor gives me a chance to get out on the road and see how other practices work. It helps me develop professionally as well as helps the practice improve if necessary.

“I love the variety of the job.”

Surveyor work is well paid but obviously takes time.

“Being a dad, a GP, a practice director and a GP surveyor means time management is a challenge at times,” says Dr Lai.

“The flexibility provided by QPA in terms of when and how much time I need to commit to GP surveying made it surprisingly straight forward. There is generally plenty of notice to plan around my clinic hours, and the number of surveys I accept are also up to me.

“GPs who are looking at contributing to general practice quality improvement, particularly outside of their own consultation rooms and clinics, becoming a GP surveyor with QPA is a great way of pursuing that goal.”

Words: Nigel Adlam
Photography: Joseph Byford

QPA is recruiting GP surveyors.

If you are a GP and passionate about the future of General Practice in Australia, contact us at surveyors@gpa.net.au or call 1800 188 088.