Using comparators to make your reports more meaningful

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Information about how to understand comparator statistics in your prescribing reports.

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The problem with national comparisons

We understand that not all patient populations are the same and therefore it can be difficult to compare your or your practice’s prescribing to national prescribing levels.

The development of comparator prescribers and practices

To help combat this problem and make these reports more relevant to you, we have developed comparator groups. This allows your or your practice’s prescribing to be compared to ten prescribers or practices from across New Zealand whose patient populations are similar to yours in:

  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Deprivation (practices only)

We will account for the size of your patient population by using proportions or standardised formats e.g. prescribing per 1,000 patients or practice population

Eliminating the demographic differences mean you will be able to more easily determine genuine differences in your prescribing practices compared with your comparators.

If your or your practice’s prescribing is different compared to your comparators, this may be explained by reasons, such as:

  • Your prescribing practice and decision making is different to your peers
  • The region you live in e.g. medicines to treat sore throats and rheumatic fever in the far North of New Zealand will be higher than in the South
  • Some prescribers may specialise in a particular area of medicine that uses certain medicines more than others, e.g. dermatology and isotretinoin prescribing

Further investigation of your prescribing

Undertaking an audit or peer group discussion may provide more detail to help identify similarities and differences in prescribing practice compared to other primary care practitioners. If any issues have been identified these resources can help instigate change, leading to more appropriate use of medicines and facilitation of best practice.

See: and for further details.

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