Government unveils $50 million primary care research initiative

Matt Woodley

9/06/2023 4:47:11 PM

The funding will aim to ‘drive innovative models of primary care’ as part of the ongoing push to reform Medicare.

A stethoscope with wooden blocks.
The funding will help researchers test new models of care that aim to strengthen Medicare.

A new $50 million primary care research initiative has been announced, which the Federal Government hopes will ‘supercharge’ innovation and help groups with poorer access to healthcare.
The funding was announced by Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler, who said it will focus on supporting research in three areas:

  • Identifying and evaluating models of primary care in which patients receive care from GPs and other health professionals, including voluntary patient registration at a practice, innovative models for rural and remote communities, and team-based care
  • Application of research findings in primary care settings, and spreading knowledge to improve person-centred care
  • Better use of data and digital technology such as electronic medical records to evaluate models of primary care and support health system planning
‘As we build a stronger Medicare, we need to do more than just invest and hope it works, we need to map and measure innovation to know what works, so we can scale up the successful innovations,’ Minister Butler said.
‘The new Primary Health Research Plan will offer $50 million to allow our best and brightest to test new models of care that will strengthen Medicare for all Australians.’
Projects focused on older Australians, lower income households and families, people with complex chronic disease, culturally and linguistically diverse communities, LGBTIQA+ Australians, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and those in regional, rural and remote areas are expected to be targeted for funding.
Dr Jo-Anne Manski-Nankervis, Chair of RACGP Expert Committee – Research (REC–R), told newsGP the announcement represents a ‘welcome first step’ towards better support for primary care and general practice researchers.
‘The majority of Australians receive their medical care in general practice, but research to inform the care that is provided – both in terms of clinical care and health services – has been underfunded,’ she said.
‘In this time of policy and funding changes, it is important that the decisions we make are informed by evidence.
‘However, we also need specific funding for primary care research infrastructure, to both carry out high quality research and to translate it into general practice. These are other key areas that would benefit from additional support.’
An Expert Advisory Panel will be appointed to fast-track development of the new Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Primary Health Research Plan, which is expected to be released in the latter half of 2023 and will fund research projects from July 2024.
The research funds will be drawn from two MRFF Initiatives – up to $30 million over four years from 2024–25 from the Emerging Priorities and Consumer Driven Research Initiative, and up to $20 million over two years from 2025–26 from the Primary Health Care Research Initiative.
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