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 the quality standard for general practice in New Zealand. 

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

Aiming for Excellence

The latest version of Aiming for Excellence standard was released July 2016, and 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 as they progress along this pathway. Aiming for Excellence incorporates the Foundation Standard criteria and the advanced and aspirational criteria that are part of CORNERSTONE® which is the College's practice accreditation programme.

 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.

Benefits of CORNERSTONE®

  • Contributes to safer care and a better experience for your patients
  • Demonstrates a commitment to ongoing quality improvement
  • Enhances teamwork in the practice
  • Enhances clinical processes
  • Contributes to continuing professional development (CPD points)

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.