Aiming for Excellence is the standard for general practice that guides best practice service to patients.

What is Aiming for Excellence?

Aiming for Excellence is a valuable patient-centred approach to primary health care that every practice across New Zealand should strive to achieve.

Aiming for Excellence sets out advanced and aspirational criteria to achieve over and above the requirements of Foundation Standard.

New Aiming for Excellence

The most recent version of the Aiming for Excellence standard was released August 2016, which reinforces the College’s commitment to supporting quality and maintaining high standards for general practice in New Zealand.

Quality is an improvement journey and Aiming for Excellence accommodates practices wherever they are on this pathway. It incorporates the Foundation Standard criteria Foundation practices work on and includes the advanced and aspirational criteria that are part of CORNERSTONE® which is the College's practice accreditation programme.

This version of Aiming for Excellence (with its guidance notes) is the culmination of significant contribution from a wide range of people. The College acknowledges and thanks all those who contributed to this standard and its development.

What happens next?

Moving to this new version of Aiming for Excellence will not take place immediately. Foundation practices will continue to work on their Foundation criteria on the QA2QI system as usual.

The College will be working with practices and PHOs to develop a progressive transition plan for CORNERSTONE® practices to move onto the new standard over time.

Contact our Quality team if you have any queries.

 What are the areas Aiming for Excellence covers?

  • Patient experience and equity
  • Practice environment and safety
  • Clinical effectiveness
  • Professional development
  • Advanced and aspirational-only indicators
  • Specialised indicators e.g. Patient Portals


CORNERSTONE® is the assessment programme that assesses practices using the Aiming for Excellence standard. This programme is coordinated by the practice assessment team at the College.

View a list of CORNERSTONE® accredited practices.

Benefits of CORNERSTONE®

  • Contributes to safer care and a better experience for your patients
  • Shows a commitment to ongoing quality improvement
  • Improves practice business processes
  • Supports compliance with national contract requirements
  • Enhances teamwork in the practice
  • Enhances clinical processes
  • Contributes to continuing professional development (CPD points)

Read more information about the CORNERSTONE® programme.

The assessment process

The Quality team will guide your through the assessment process. This involves:

  • Registration with the College
  • Self-assessment undertaken by the practice
  • The College assigns an external assessor
  • Assessor reviews evidence and visits practice
  • If required, an action plan may be developed with practices
  • Health and Disability Audit New Zealand (HDANZ) reviews and moderates
  • The College awards accreditation certificate to practice

The College works closely with HDANZ to provide independent auditing, verification, assessor training and oversight.

View the expanded CORNERSTONE® assessment process here.

Annual programme

Practices that have successfully completed CORNERSTONE® maintain accreditation by undertaking the annual programme. This process is like continuing professional development (CPD), where certain criteria must be met every year during a four-year cycle to maintain professional standards.