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Regulator Performance Guide

On 30 June 2021, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) released the Regulator Performance Guide (the Guide), which seeks to increase accountability, promote best practice, build professionalism and support cultural change among regulators.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (the Commission) is not a regulator. As such, the Guide does not directly apply to the Commission. However, some of the Commission’s activities support regulatory functions. For example, the Commission contributes to the jurisdictions’ regulation of their healthcare facilities through the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards. As such, the Commission should consider the Guide’s three principles and demonstrate a commitment to minimise regulatory burden.

Principle 1: Continuous improvement and building trust

The Commission maintains systems to update and refine its standards and policies in order to ensure that they remain fit-for-purpose and garner trust from the users. This includes consulting patients and consumers, health service organisations, clinicians, the Inter-Jurisdictional Committee, Primary Care Committee and Private Hospital Sector Committee for advice on the impact of the Commission’s standards across different regulatory settings, and undertaking evaluation surveys with the users to monitor the value and currency of the Commission’s standards. The Commission also implements audit processes into many of its data collection processes to ensure the data can be trusted.

Principle 2: Risk based and data driven

As an evidence-based organisation, the Commission ensures that its standards and policies are driven and backed by data so that they target areas requiring quality improvement. For example, the Australian Atlas of Healthcare Variation series helps regulators see patterns of variation and develop targeted interventions to address unwarranted variation in the health system. At the same time, the Commission seeks to minimise regulatory burden associated with data submission and assist the health service organisations making their data submission easier and more efficient. An example of this includes automating the validation of audit data for the National Hand Hygiene Initiative, to replace the manual validation processes.

The Commission also ensures that its decisions are based on sound risk assessment, using information gathered from the health system and analysing data submitted by organisations that participate in the Commission’s standards such as the accrediting agencies for the NSQHS Standards, to actively monitor and plan for risks. This helps the Commission understand and prepare for any flow-on effects from its activities.

Principle 3: Collaboration and engagement

The Commission’s organisational structure is transparent and responsive to healthcare receivers and providers who are affected by the Commission’s standards and policies. For example, the Commission’s Partnering with Consumers team commits itself to ensuring that patients and carers are engaged in the Commission’s decisions.

Almost every aspect of the Commission’s work is supported by a range of committees, working groups and advisory bodies to make sure that those affected by the Commission’s regulatory policies are properly engaged and consulted. Membership on these committees includes state and territory health departments, organisational representatives, independent experts, health workers as well as consumers who receive care.

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