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Primary Sense – a population health management, clinical decision support, and data extraction tool
For eligible practices, Primary Sense will be replacing the Pen CS systems CAT4 and Topbar from 1 July 2024.

Primary Sense is an evidence based clinical audit and decision support tool that provides on demand, pre-filtered reports at the click of a button.

Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) has committed to adopting Primary Sense – a population health management, clinical decision support, and data extraction tool.   

All eligible general practices who have signed a Data Sharing Agreement (DSA) with NQPHN will receive Primary Sense free of charge.  

Primary Sense has been developed in conjunction with general practices, universities, and representatives from peak bodies. It has been tried and tested among 700 general practitioners (GPs) in the Gold Coast PHN region. Primary Sense is:  

  • easy to use  
  • can be quickly installed in practices using Medical Director or Best Practice software  
  • provides real time medication safety alerts, patient care prompts, and near real time data extractions  
  • remains free for general practices that share data with NQPHN  
  • all data extracted from Primary Sense is privacy protected, securely stored, and managed in Australia.  

Primary Sense’s four components work together to provide real time reports, medical alerts, or prompts. These include:    

  1. a data extractor tool     
  2. a desktop app    
  3. a database  
  4. the Johns Hopkins University ACG® System – the world’s leading population health analytics software.   

Data extractor   

  • The tool extracts de-identified general practice data from a practice every three to five minutes.    


  • This data is securely transferred to a central database where analytics – like The Johns Hopkins University ACG® System – run over the data regularly.   
  • The data is stored in a highly secure data store that is only accessible to that practice’s PHN, where PHN staff can run further analysis to support quality improvement initiatives and inform population health research or plan and commission services, like mental health care, to improve community health across the country.    
  • All data extracted from Primary Sense is privacy protected and securely stored and managed in Australia.   

  Desktop app    

  • The processed data is presented back to GPs, practice managers, and practice nurses as reports, medical alerts or prompts, either on demand, or triggered during a patient visit.   

For learning manuals, important documents, and ‘how to’ videos, click here.  

There are many benefits to utilising Primary Sense in general practice: 

  • Tried and tested – developed by GPs for GPs. 
  • The right care at the right time – real time medication alerts and prompts to support clinical decisions. 
  • On demand reports to proactively plan care that can be used by practice managers, GPs, and nurses. 
  • Access to the Johns Hopkins University ACG® System – the world’s leading population health analytics software – that identifies high risk groups and predicts future health needs to improve patient’s care plan. 
  • Secure and reliable – data is de-identified, privacy protected, and securely stored, and managed in Australia. 

Best Practice installation instructions  

Medical Director installation instructions 

Before installing Primary Sense, please take note of the following information: 

  • The Extractor is installed once on the server only.  

  • The desktop application can be installed on all workstations that have Best Practice/Medical Director running and are utilised by practice staff.  

  • The desktop installation only needs to occur once per workstation (or once onto terminal server). 

  • The desktop application will not be functional until first extract of the practice data is completed.  

  • Primary Sense desktop software is supported on Windows 11, 10, and 8.2 operating systems. 

  • Primary Sense Extractor software is supported on the following Microsoft Windows operating systems: Windows Server 2022, 2019, 2016, 2012 R2, and 2012. 

  • Server RAM and diskspace minimum requirements are 8GB RAM and 200MB diskspace. 

  • For medical director users – creation of a read only user account to access database (instructions provided at install) is required. 

  • Google Chrome, Edge, or Firefox will need to be set as default browser on all computers. 

Best Practice  

Medical Director  

Confirm the practice has installed the October 2022 data update, and that “Primary Sense” access is enabled in 3rd Party Integrations. 

Download a SQL script to set up a read-only user account which will be used when configuring Primary Sense services.  

For Best Practice users with November 2022 data update or older – ensure your follow these instructions prior to Primary Sense installation.   


For Best Practice users – confirm, is “Primary Sense” access enabled in 3rd party integrations.  


For further information contact NQPHN support on:

Email:  Phone:  (07) 4034 0300

20 June 2024