Skip links

How to Conduct a Clinical Audit 

How to Conduct a Clinical Audit 

Welcome to The HLTH Group’s guide on conducting a clinical audit, an essential process for ensuring quality improvement and effective care within healthcare practices. Clinical audits are not only integral for meeting regulatory requirements but also vital for enhancing patient outcomes and refining healthcare delivery.

Understanding Clinical Audit

Clinical audit, as defined by HQIP and endorsed by NICE, is a quality improvement process aimed at enhancing patient care and outcomes through the systematic review of care and the implementation of change. It’s a structured cycle of events designed to measure current practices against evidence-based standards and to bridge the gap between existing practices and best practices.

Why Clinical Audit Matters

Clinical audits ensure that patients receive the right care and treatment by continuously measuring and improving care delivery. In line with good medical practice for general practitioners, participation in regular and systematic clinical audits is essential for maintaining and improving performance.

As part of revalidation requirements, general practitioners should undertake at least one clinical audit or quality improvement project per revalidation cycle. Additionally, each practice should conduct a minimum of two clinical audits per year, which can be distributed among multiple GPs.

The Clinical Audit Cycle

The clinical audit cycle consists of four stages:

1. Preparation and Planning: Select a relevant topic for the audit, ensuring it aligns with agreed priorities. Establish measurable standards based on evidence and create a structured project plan.

2. Measuring Performance: Design and test a detailed methodology for data collection, ensuring an adequate sample size and clear data set. Analyse and communicate the findings to all stakeholders.

3. Implementing Change: Develop an action plan based on audit results and recommendations. Monitor the implementation of these recommendations within the practice.

4. Sustaining Improvement: Repeat the audit after an agreed period using the same methodology to measure improvement. Demonstrate that changes have been implemented and improvements made. Further iterations may be necessary for continuous improvement.

What to Look for in an Inspection

During inspections, evidence of all four stages of the clinical audit cycle should be apparent. Practices should demonstrate ongoing audit programs with continuous improvements in patient care across various clinical areas. Ideally, there should be at least two cycles of clinical audits, although exceptions may apply to newly opened practices.

It’s important to note that data used in clinical audits can be extracted from the practice’s information system, provided it aligns with current best practices or NICE guidance. Data collection methods can include retrospective audits of past cases or prospective audits reviewing a defined time period and number of cases.

At The HLTH Group, we offer support and guidance for conducting clinical audits, ensuring practices meet regulatory requirements while enhancing patient care and outcomes. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you in your quality improvement journey.